AirAsia has one foot in the door to India’s vast domestic aviation market as it closes in on final license approvals.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday approved the carrier’s first ferry flight into the country as part of the mandatory route familiarisation process. As the final hurdle to flight clearance, AirAsia India’s airline crew must fly with a DGCA inspection team to destinations that they will serve in India.
This will take up to ten days, and if all goes to plan the permit will be issued by the third week of April. The carrier will then be free to commence operations with an initial fleet of three A320 aircraft.
The joint venture airline between Air Asia Bhd (49%), Tata Sons (30%) and Telestra Tradeplace (21%), will offer point-to-point services between second tier cities in central and southern India. The airline will target first-time travellers with short-haul flights of 60-90 minutes.
The arrival of AirAsia presents a major threat to other players in the market, many of whom have tried to derail the approval process. Indian carriers have lobbied against AirAsia’s entry to India and continue to do so. According to local press reports Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy had moved the court to challenge the clearance granted to the airline.