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AirAsia seeks exemption from 20 aircraft rule

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on April 03, 2017

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AirAsia Berhad has requested the Indian Government to waive the 20 aircraft rule so that AirAsia India is able to start international flights at the earliest. Air Asia Berhad owns a 49 per cent stake in AirAsia India.

The suggestion was made by the Malaysian side during a bilateral presentation at a meeting where both the Indian and Malaysian Prime Ministers were present. The Malaysian Prime Minister is currently on a tour of India along with a strong business delegation.

The Indian Government stipulates that an Indian carrier must have a fleet of 20 aircraft before it is allowed to fly abroad. AirAsia India has a fleet of 10 aircraft and plans to get to 20 aircraft by the middle or third quarter of next year.

The Malaysian suggestion has been made in the backdrop of the fact that no Indian carrier flies to Malaysia. This in effect blocks any more flights by Malaysian airlines to India as the rules stipulate that more flights can be allowed only if both Indian and Malaysian carriers have exhausted 80 per cent of the flights that each of them is allowed to operate.

“Probably three months,” Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, Executive Chairman and co-founder, AirAsia said in an informal interaction with the media when asked how long it would be before AirAsia India starts international flights if the Indian Government abolishes the rule.

Amar Abrol, Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia India pointed out that the airline was already at 10 aircraft adding that if the Government allows the waiver it will be a matter of 3-6 months to get the (international flights) started.

As regards investments, Abrol indicated that if the airline is to bring in five more aircraft to India it would be looking at an investment of around $150 million. “This is in terms of investments in taking on a plane to park in India,” he said.

Published on April 03, 2017
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