AirAsia India to start flights on 12 June; ticket sales open tomorrow

AirAsia India will start operating regular flights on the domestic circuit beginning 12 June, its chairman said Thursday, even as he announced the start of ticket sales from 30 May.

"Very very proud to announce AirAsia India open for sale tomorrow. Wow! First flight June 12. See you all in India on the 12th," Tony Fernandes posted on his Twitter account.

The airline got its flying permit from the DGCA on 8 May, clearing its final regulatory hurdle and ending months of wait for passengers eager to fly the airline, which claims to make air travel the cheapest in the country.

Fernandes did not tweet about the sector that the airline would be flying first. But on Monday it sent a letter to travel agents saying Bangalore-Goa was the "only sector available".

The airline, with its base in Chennai, was set up as a joint venture of Malaysian carrier AirAsia Berhad, Tata Sons and private investor Arun Bhatia in February this year.

AirAsia's entry will heat up competition in India's domestic air travel market, currently dominated by low fare carriers such as IndiGo, Go Air and SpiceJet.

AirAsia India had offered 30 to 35 per cent reduction in fares compared to the average air fares in India.

It had also planned to operate its first flight from Chennai, which now seems unlikely. In a recent interview, the airline's CEO Mithu Chandilya had said the first flight would "possibly" be out of Chennai but that may change. 

"Our network isn't finalised yet but we are looking at a 60:40 ratio of Tier II routes to metro routes with 60 being Tier II," he had said.

AirAsia India will most likely fly to all metros but exclude the crowded Mumbai airport.