KUALA LUMPUR: Frills-free airline, AirAsia, will not hesitate to establish itself in India if the “aviation environment” and tax structure are “conducive and friendly” for low-cost airline operations.
Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (pic) said although the Indian government had allowed 49% foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the country's civil aviation sector, the cost of operating an airline there was still higher than many developed nations. “This is the power of AirAsia. Everyone wants us but the right infrastructure and environment must be there for us to go there (India).
“The airport tax is already very high and I even heard that they are going to further increase the tax, forcing many airlines to quit from certain destinations.
“If everything is right, then we will be stupid not to enter the Indian market, which boasts more than a billion population,” he told reporters after opening AirAsia's Badminton Academy here yesterday.
Fernandes said he would be visiting India late this month but not for a joint-venture discussion as was reported but to receive an Indian international award for his remarkable achievements in the global aviation industry.
He said the most crucial area that AirAsia always paid attention before venturing into a new market was keeping its cost down. “It's for that reason AirAsia's medium-and long-haul affiliate, AirAsia X, withdrew from flying to New Delhi and Mumbai.”
An AirAsia unit in India and China is said to be the ultimate aspiration of Fernandes, the brain behind the budget airline's meteoric rise since its inception in late 2001.
Shortly after the Indian government gave the go-ahead for FDIs in the civil aviation and multi-brand retail on Sept 14, Fernandes, who is now based in Jakarta overseeing the AirAsia Asean regional expansion, had tweeted: “Fantastic news that India has opened up investments to foreign airlines. With India opening up, this is fantastic news for airlines like AirAsia. Great that (the) Indian government has put people first.”
Bernama also reported that Budget airline AirAsia is seeking to discuss potential areas of collaboration with stakeholders of the new Malindo Airways.
Fernandes said in this regard, he would be meeting with Lion Air's parent company, PT Lion Grup's (rpt Grup) president director Rusdi Kirana soon.
“We can collaborate with Malindo Airways. I am not here to make enemies. I will meet Rusdi over dinner soon.
“There are many thing that we can collaborate on. Personally, I respect Rusdi who has done a fantastic job in Indonesia,” Fernandes told reporters after launching AirAsia's Badminton Academy, here yesterday.
However, he said the competition between AirAsia and Malindo Airways, was still on.
“AirAsia has a very strong foothold in the regional aviation industry to face the competition. - Bernama
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