Asia's largest budget carrier AirAsia announced Saturday it has begun recruiting pilots for the no-frills Indian airline joint venture it plans to launch later this year. AirAsia is searching for India-based captains and co-pilots, the carrier said on its website. Group chief executive Tony Fernandes added on his Facebook page: "Come fly with us! AirAsia India is hiring pilots." Last month, the Malaysia-based company won approval from India's foreign investment panel to set up an airline in a joint venture with the giant Tata group, a government official said. "The way things are going, it looks like we will start operations in September provided we get all the necessary approvals," Bo Lingam, chief operating officer of Air Asia, was quoted as saying by India's Economic Times. The venture still has to obtain a flying licence from India's aviation regulator, among other steps. The company will recruit 100 employees to begin with for its Indian operations, the newspaper said. AirAsia will have a 49 percent stake in the carrier while India's Tata Group will hold 30 percent. The remainder will be held by entrepreneur Arun Bhatia's Telstra Tradeplace. Fernandes, a former record industry executive, took over insolvent AirAsia in 2001 and turned it into one of the aviation sector's biggest success stories. AirAsia's entry would mark the first by a foreign carrier in the Indian aviation sector since the government last September relaxed rules allowing overseas airlines to take up to 49 percent stakes in domestic carriers.
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