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AirAsia launch gets delayed

New Delhi, Nov. 24: AirAsia India is likely to miss its December launch deadline and can only start operations from end of January, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has said.

“They are presently seeking permission to import aircraft, but it should not take much time,” said Arun Mishra, director-general of civil aviation. He said AirAsia wanted to train its pilots in Malaysia. “We have to inspect and certify their training facility before we allow the airline to do so.”

In September, AirAsia applied to the DGCA for its scheduled operator’s permit (SOP), or the flying permit, which is the final step before it can start its operations.

The DGCA grants the permit after vetting the preparations of an airline to launch flights. It examines areas such as the availability of aircraft, availability of manpower to operate flights as well as on the ground, parking space at airports and engineering facilities.

AirAsia India is planning to start operations in the country with a fleet of three Airbus A-320 aircraft and over 200 employees, including pilots, engineers and ground staff. It will later add at least 10 aircraft annually.

The low-cost airline is eyeing several bases, including Chennai, Bangalore and Kochi. At present, AirAsia operates in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and flies to Chennai, Bangalore, Tiruchirappalli, Kochi and Calcutta.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) earlier cleared a proposal of AirAsia to set up a new airline, AirAsia India, with the Tata Group and Arun Bhatia of Telestra TradePlace in a 49:30:21 partnership.

In February, the Malaysia-based airline had submitted an application to the FIPB through its investment arm, AirAsia Investment Ltd.

“We are confident that it will be able to replicate the success of its counterparts in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, enabling people to fly affordably through superior operational performance by emphasising a focused and disciplined cost structure which will tremendously benefit the Indian consumer,” AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya said.

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