Sunday, June 25, 2017

I would love AirAsia to own 100 per cent in Indian arm: Tony Fernandes, CEO, Air Asia Group

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes had always wanted AirAsia India to fly to foreign cities early and had argued against the norm stipulating minimum five years and 20 aircrafts for domestic airlines to fly abroad.

Last year, India scrapped that scheme to allow all airlines to fly abroad provided they deploy at least 20 aircraft for domestic operations. Fernandes now says flying abroad is not a rush for him any longer because his airline can do a lot in India, and would “love to” own 100 per cent in AirAsia India, a 49:51joint venture with the Tata Group.

In an interview with ET at the Paris Air Show, Fernandes says AirAsia is already the lowest-cost airline in India and that he wants to make flying affordable for an ordinary taxi driver in the country. Edited excerpts:

How has been your experience in India?
My story of India is that when a taxi driver picked me from Delhi airport and told me that it took him four days to reach Delhi from Madras (Chennai). I was shocked. I asked him how much he can pay to fly. And he gave me a price. We are about two-thirds of the way to make that man fly. India is a country that I do not want to screw up. There has been so much opposition to us. Some of them are of our own doing. But I am happy with the way we are going and India is not a simple country, it is a complicated one, and that is further complicated due to intense competition.

You mentioned about some mistakes of your own doing. Can you elaborate?
I think there’s only one, which I do not want to talk about because it is quite well documented. We have done well. We have waited for the law to change. We are clear, and have a clear path moving ahead. There was so much opposition to us and we have been involved in issues, where we were not even involved, like the issue with the Tatas. They have been great partners. They have stuck with us and we have also stuck with them.
26/06/17 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times