The Tata Group and Malaysia's low-cost carrier AirAsia are now looking at an earlier June deadline for launching their new airline in the country. On a hectic weekend after Ratan Tata emerged from retirement to meet civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Friday, a high-level team of the Tata Group and AirAsia executives met senior ministry officials on Saturday to fast-track clearances.
AirAsia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes had recently stated that the new airline may take to the sky by this year-end with three to four A-320s and his company would make an initial investment of $50 million. AirAsia is expected to stir Indian skies with its low-fare strategy, which has been instrumental in scripting its success story in Asia .
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Sources said for Ratan Tata, running an airline is as much an emotional as an economic issue as he wants to restore the family's historic link with a business that was snapped when the government nationalised the Tata-owned private airline that was launched in 1932 to form Air India after independence.
This is reflected in the fact that even post-retirement, he has plunged into working out modalities for successfully starting a new airline.
"The Tata Group and AirAsia want to start a new airline as early as possible. There representatives have approached us for an early clearance and clear regulatory and other operational bottlenecks.
We have assured full cooperation to them. We have already issued directions to the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation), Airports Authority of India, Bureau of Civil Aviation Authority and other concerned agencies to look into the issue," a senior civil aviation ministry official told Mail Today.
The joint venture (JV), between the $100-billion Tata Group AirAsia and Arun Bhatia's Telestra Tradeplace, will be the first foreign direct investment in civil aviation after the policy was liberalised last year. AirAsia, through its investment arm AirAsia Investment Ltd, intends to own 49 per cent of the new airline with the remaining stake held by the other two companies.
An application has already been moved by AirAsia before the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to seek approval for acquiring 49-per cent equity in the new carrier. Tata Sons is likely to pick up 30-per cent stake and Bhatia's company Hindustan Aerosystems 21 per cent. The matter is expected to be listed for FIPB approval on March 6. After the FIPB's approval, the JV company would submit an application with aviation regulator DGCA for the air operators permit.
Courtesy: Mail Today