AirAsia India seeks airline licence

AirAsia India, the newly-formed Indian joint venture of Malaysia's low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd, has moved the civil aviation ministry seeking permission to launch operations, official sources said here on Thursday.

Air Asia India, the Malaysian carrier's joint venture with the Tata Group and Telestra Tradeplace, filed its application with the aviation ministry on 23 April.

Air Asia, the largest low-cost airline in Asia, plans to launch operations with a few aircraft and increase the numbers to 36 planes over the next five years.

The joint venture company where AirAsia will hold 49 per cent stake, Tata Sons 30 per cent and Telestra Tradeplace the remaining 21 per cent. It will have six members on its board, comprising two nominees each from AirAsia and Tata Sons and one representative from Telestra Tradeplace.

The sixth member would be an independent director on the board who would also be the non-executive chairman.

Tata Sons will be represented by R Venkatraman, former executive assistant to Ratan Tata, and Bharat Vasani, chief legal counsel of the Tata Group on the board of AirAsia India, while Arun Bhatia will represent Telstra Tradeplace.

Anthony Francis Fernandes (Tony Fernandes) and Kamarudin Bin Meranun, the largest shareholders in AirAsia Bhd, will represent the Malaysian airline.

While the name of the non-executive chairman has not been revealed, it is rumoured that Ratan Tata could also be on the board of the airline.

''The board of AirAsia India has approved and appointed a CEO for AirAsia India. He will be a revelation. Thrilled to have him on board,'' Fernandes had tweeted on Sunday, indicating that the board of AirAsia India had already met.

The airline joint venture, which received formal approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board early this month, needs approvals from the civil aviation ministry and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for launching operations in the country.

The airline, which has a fleet of Airbus A320 planes, plans to start flying by the end of this year with a fleet of three-four planes and an initial total investment of about $30 million.

Based in Chennai, the airline will focus on providing domestic connectivity to small cities. It is also looking at the space and facilities available at the Kolkta airport as well.

AirAsia, which has similar ventures in the Philippines, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, is reported to have ordered an additional 100 Airbus SAS A320s, valued at $9.4 billion, in addition to the 200 it agreed to purchase in 2011.