Advertisement

AirAsia's India entry wins investment panel approval

An AirAsia plane is seen taking off from an airport in Indonesia, on February 15, 2012. Asia's largest low-cost carrier has won approval from India's foreign investment panel to set up an airline in a joint venture with the giant Tata group, according to a government official

Asia's largest low-cost carrier AirAsia 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. AirAsia, one of the pioneers of low-cost air travel in Asia, already connects Southeast Asia with some Indian cities such as Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi and Kolkata through its operations in Thailand and Malaysia. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has "approved Air Asia's proposal to enter the civil aviation sector", an Indian finance ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity, on Wednesday. AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes, a former record industry executive who took over insolvent AirAsia in 2001 and turned it into one of the aviation sector's biggest success stories, tweeted the news was "exciting." "Thank you all," he said, adding: "People and companies with good intentions to create jobs and make life of the average man better will always win." AirAsia, headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, will have a 49 percent stake while India's Tata Group will hold 30 percent. The remainder will be held by entrepreneur Arun Bhatia's Telstra Tradeplace. The venture now has to obtain a flying licence from India's aviation regulator, among other steps, and is aiming to start operations in May-June, the Economic Times reported on Tuesday. AirAsia's entry would mark the first by a foreign carrier in the Indian aviation sector since the government last September relaxed rules to let overseas airlines take up to 49 percent stakes in domestic carriers.