AirAsia chooses unnamed 'whiz kid' as CEO for Indian venture

With the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) due to take up for consideration the proposal for a new AirAsia-Tata airline in the Indian skies, AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes today said he has selected a chief executive officer for the new venture, but did not name him.

''I have selected the CEO for AirAsia India. A very smart boy from the South, Madras (sic). An amazing CV. Will impress all...,'' Fernandes said in a Twitter posting.

AirAsia Investment had moved an application with FIPB in February seeking approval for the joint venture, in which AirAsia would hold a 49 per cent stake and be the operator of the new airline. Tata Sons would own 30 per cent and Arun Bhatia's Telstra Tradeplace would own the remaining 21 per cent.

Fernandes had recently said the new airline would be based in Chennai and in the initial phase, concentrate on destinations in the south, where AirAsia already operates; and it would focus on providing connectivity between small towns.

After the probable FIPB approval, the new airline's actual take-off would still depend on the civil aviation ministry giving it an air operator's permit.

The government had, last November, permitted up to 49 per cent foreign holding in Indian carriers. The AirAsia-Tata venture looks likely to be the first to get in the sky under the new policy.