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Feb date for AirAsia flight

New Delhi, Dec. 31: AirAsia India will be able to start operations only by February.

The low-cost airline of the Tata group and Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia will get a flying permit from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) by January end.

AirAsia India had applied for the permit to the DGCA in September, days after it received a no-objection certificate from the civil aviation ministry.

The process of examining the application is almost over, sources said. AirAsia owns a 49 per cent stake in the joint venture airline, with Tata Sons holding 30 per cent and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace, 21 per cent.

The DGCA grants the permit to a start-up airline after examining issues such as the availability of aircraft, manpower to operate flights, aircraft parking space at airports and engineering facilities.

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

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

In February, the Malaysia-based AirAsia had submitted an application to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board 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 had said.

Next year there is going to be an influx of a large number of airlines. Throwing down the gauntlet at AirAsia India, low- cost carrier SpiceJet has got into an interlining agreement with Singapore’s largest budget carrier Tigerair.

The three-year pact for greater connectivity is a first such partnership between an Indian budget carrier and a foreign airline.

SpiceJet passengers from 14 cities, mainly non-metros, will be able to seamlessly fly to Singapore from Hyderabad. The arrangement will commence from next week.

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