AirAsia India is likely to commence flying by January. “We are working out everything possible from our end to ensure that we start operations by January,” said AirAsia India’s CEO Mittu Chandilya.

The challenge is getting the fare so low that everybody gets an opportunity to fly. “We expect nearly 60 per cent of our travellers to be virgin travellers,” he told newspersons on the sidelines of the 12th All India Management Students Convention here on Friday.

AirAsia has been rated the world’s best low-cost airline five years in a row by SkyTrax World Alliance, a UK-based consultancy. “Indian operations are going to test us further,” he said.

“We are entering the sector at a time when the government is deregulating the sector. The obstacles are many and keeps me excited,” he said. The low-cost airline recently received a No Objection Certificate from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and has applied for Air Operating Permit (AOP) to kick-start operations. With Chennai as its headquarters, the airline, a joint venture of AirAsia, Tata Group and Telestra Tradeplace, plans to start flying with three aircrafts.

The airline has already recruited 300 crew members who are currently undergoing training in Malaysia, Chandilya said.

On an average, each aircraft will require around 90 people, including the ground staff, he said.

When asked if it is worrying to see other domestic airlines in India bleeding, Chandilya said, “We do not know how other airlines run their business. I can only say that we will be profitable. Otherwise, we will not be in this business. It is not a charity business. It is about empowering aviation and giving people an opportunity to fly.”

AirAsia is talking to various State Governments, including Tamil Nadu, to understand what they want. Aviation gives the biggest returns. For every rupee spent, the return is Rs 12. This includes job creation and tourism, he said.

“We are not asking anything, but want to understand what the States’ priorities are. All of these are for the long- term growth plans. “We are looking at a ten-year road map and working towards that,” he said

Passion to work most important: Mittu Chandilya

While education is important, a person should have passion to work and a winning spirit, said Mittu Chandilya, CEO, AirAsia India.

During a downturn, people with passion and winning spirit are the ones who will stay on as against others who will jump jobs to get an additional Rs 1,000.

When AirAsia, which is to start operations in the next few months, was recruiting people for cabin crew, Chandilya said, he saw some candidates without proper shoes but had the passion to work. “Those are the ones we ended up selecting because they have the ambition and the drive to achieve bigger,” he said in his keynote address at the 12th All India Management Students Convention on the theme Winning Strategies.

Chandilya urged students to dream, and dream big.

He said students should have a dream and lay the foundation towards achieving that dream. That would differentiate them from the others. He urged students to share their weaknesses and dreams. That’s what ‘differentiates between winners and losers. Everybody has an opportunity to be a winner and one must start working towards it’, he said.

“In India, we always talks about a win-win situation but in the US I faced a situation, which was winning and destroy, and make sure that you become number one. It was a different cultural environment to which I had to adapt to, he said.

Subroto Bagchi, Chairman, MindTree Ltd, said winning should be for a cause. During childhood, one wins for oneself; during adulthood with others; and at a later stage of life for others. Bagchi spoke of Dr Govindappa Venkataswamy, Founder, Arvind Eye Hospital. Around 32 million patients have been treated so far by the hospital. Of this, nearly 4 million have been operated up on, with nearly 70 per cent of them for free. That’s the legacy he has left behind on winning for a cause and for others, Bagchi said.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 25, 2013)
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