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HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 02, 2013
Budget carrier AirAsia is hopeful of making flying in India more affordable by bringing down airfares and improving networks.

The airline, to be launched in India as a joint venture between the Tata Group, Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia and Arun Bhatia, is eyeing several bases, including Chennai, Bangalore and Kochi, said Tony Fernandes, Group CEO, AirAsia.

Fernandes said he hoped to start operations by October.

"Flying is not elite anymore. Every common man in south-east Asia can now fly," said Fernandes, adding, the proposed low-cost airline will offer nano fares.

Fernandes who met five ministers including aviation minister Ajit Singh in Delhi on Tuesday was accompanied by Ratan Tata, former chairman of the Tata Group, who is also the chief adviser to the board of AirAsia India.

A private pilot licence holder, Tata also piloted the plane on Tuesday to bring Fernandes from Mumbai to Delhi. "My new pilot Sir Ratan Tata flying me to Delhi. Another way AirAsia cuts costs. The adviser is a pilot," Fernandes tweeted.

Tata and Fernandes drove in a Jaguar, while a second black Jaguar carried Mittu Chandilya, CEO of AirAsia India.

"The sooner they can provide us data, the faster they will get the licence," said Singh.

"This is a different type of enterprise that Fernandes is bringing and hopefully spread the use of air travel across India in a new dimension," said Tata.