Air Asia has been a leader in low-cost operations throughout Asia. The new launch of AirAsia India is now expected at the end of 2013, according to CEO Mittu Chandilya.
Chandilya said on Sunday during a media conference: “We were aiming to launch prior to Diwali, but don’t expect it happening. It is better to take up the losses of a delayed launch initially than trying to hurry up the launch.”
Chandilya was speaking with the media in Chennai on the sidelines of an event that saw AirAsia sponsoring the Indian blind football team to Bangkok to participate in an international blind football tournament.
The airline is yet to secure a no-objection certificate from India’s aviation ministry, after which it will have to get air operating permits.
The airline applied for an airline license from the ministry in April. It has just received a clearance from the home ministry.
It may be the end of December before the airline gets all the clearances and starts to fly, Chandilya said.
There is also a delay as Chairman S. Ramadorai has yet to get a security clearance, because the proposed venture of Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd, Telestra and Tata Sons Ltd. has just applied for it.
There might also be a legal hurdle. Bharatiya Janata Party’s Subramanian Swamy in July filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court, requesting it to quash the clearance granted to AirAsia India on the grounds that it violated the country’s foreign investment policy. The apex court has yet to decide on the petition.
Malaysian airline, AirAsia, holds a 48.95% stake in AirAsia India. Tata Sons owns a 30% stake, and the remaining 21% is held by Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace Pvt. Ltd.
The airline expects to add another 270 employees to the existing 200 hired so far, Chandilya said.