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External environment notwithstanding, AirAsia India is here to stay, said Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata on Thursday. Tata, who is also an advisor on the airlines' board, said AirAsia and the proposed Tata-Singapore Airlines venture have enough room to co-exist in India.
“There is an enormous potential for air travel in India at both ends of the spectrum both in the budget segment which Air Asia will serve, and for the full-service carrier which Singapore Airlines will bring to the country,” Ratan Tata said at the AirAsia India launch press conference.
Addressing a joint press conference with Tata, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said the carrier will look at increasing the number of planes and is currently eyeing regions such as North-east India for newer routes. “Airlines should be able to fly where they want. I think the five-year rule puts Indian airlines at a disadvantage to foreign airlines who can come in,” he said. Air Asia India, which currently flies to Goa and Chennai from Bangalore would look at flying internationally if the rules were relaxed, he said. Fernandes said the airline is sticking to its target of achieving break-even in four to six months.
AirAsia India, in which the Tata group is a JV partner, has no objection to the Tata's proposed full-service venture with Singapore Airlines as it was good for the market, he said.
Fernandes said India was no different from any other country but issues like cost of aviation turbine fuel, building low-cost infrastructure and the restrictions on starting international flights needed to be addressed.