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AirAsia India plans to take fleet size to 100 in five years

The lowcost carrier, a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhard, will become an impactful player in the market once its fleet grows to 50 aircraft.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 31, 2019, 08.49 AM IST
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The aviation ministry has delayed approvals to AirAsia India owing to an ongoing case challenging the airline’s application.
New Delhi: After growing at a very slow rate in its first five years of operations, AirAsia India plans to expand its fleet more than fourfold to 100 aircraft in the next five years. “We have firmed up plans to add 14-15 planes every year starting next year for the next five years. We have remained a small player in the Indian market till now with just 23 planes, which will increase to 29 planes by the end of December,” said a senior executive, who did not wish to be identified.

The executive said the lowcost carrier, a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhard, will become an impactful player in the market once its fleet grows to 50 aircraft. The market is dominated by IndiGo, which operates a fleet of about 250 aircraft. “While we will continue to add aircraft under the current model by getting aircraft from AirAsia Berhad, we will also look at leasing planes directly from lessors,” said the executive.

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The airline’s expansion plans focus on strengthening the network on existing routes rather than adding new routes. “The philosophy is simple: There is no point staying a marginal airline on various routes. The focus will rather be on strengthening our position on routes that we are in,” said the executive, adding that both the promoters would put in funds for expansion. AirAsia India, which started operations in 2014, is the smallest scheduled commercial airline in the country. In the ongoing winter schedule, which began at October-end, the airline has increased its flights by 326 departures to 1,345 departures per week.

With a reduction of nearly 3,600 weekly departures because of the sudden suspension of operations by cash-strapped Jet Airways on April 17, other airlines are seeking to fill the gap by launching new flights.

During the winter schedule, domestic airlines are set to operate 23,403 departures per week covering 103 airports, as compared to 23,117 departures a week a year ago. On AirAsia’s plans to launch overseas operations, the executive said that the airline has applied to the government for rights and would launch flights as and when its gets permission. “We qualify to fly international under rules and have applied for approvals, which are pending with the government. We are waiting for approvals from the government,” he said. The aviation ministry has delayed approvals to AirAsia India owing to an ongoing case challenging the airline’s application.

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