AirAsia India has started taking reservations for its first flight, which will launch on 12 June 2014.
The new low-cost carrier will initially start operating the Bengaluru-Goa route, which is now being offered with promotional fares of INR990 (US$17).
The announcement was made in Delhi on Friday by AirAsia India’s CEO, Mittu Chandilya.
“AirAsia will be opening up the bookings this evening,” he told reporters on Friday. “Our first route will be from Bangalore to Goa and Goa to Bangalore. We are very excited about that,” Chandilya was quoted saying by the Press Trust of India (PTI).
“Our collective goal is that every Indian should have an opportunity to fly,” he added, echoing the AirAsia slogan.
AirAsia India received its first ever aircraft, a brand new Airbus A320, on 21 March this year, and the new airline has had to clear a series of regulatory hurdles before being able to launch. It received its air operator’s licence on 7 May.
In terms of expansion, PTI reported Chandilya as saying that AirAsia India plans to build a fleet of 10 aircraft within its first year. Like AirAsia’s other regional operations, these will be single-aisle A320s with 180 seats in an all-economy class layout. These 10 aircraft will enable AirAsia India to connect to 10 cities, including Tiruchirappalli, Kochi and Kolkata.
A joint venture with Tata Sons, Chennai-based AirAsia India will become the company’s fifth regional unit, following Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Its Japanese venture closed in 2013 after just one year, but India is arguably the group’s most ambitious venture yet, given the challenges the market faces in terms of operations costs and taxation. But with such a huge pool of potential customers, there is no doubt India has the potential to be AirAsia’s biggest market.
Many are concerned however, that the arrival of AirAsia India will trigger a price war among India’s domestic carriers, particularly low-cost rivals like Spicejet and IndiGo.