In a sudden development, the cabinet secretariat has asked the aviation ministry to provide all documents relating to the grant of air operators’ permit (AoP) to budget carrier AirAsia India.
According to sources, the communication from the secretariat was received last week, following which, the aviation ministry began compiling the relevant documents. Senior ministry officials told HT that the reply would be sent “very soon”.
While AirAsia did not offer comments, an official said on the condition of anonymity that the airline has always complied with all the requirements.
“We were scrutinised much more than any airline from day one, and that only means we have always complied willingly with the requirements. And will continue to do so,” the official said.
The Chennai-based no-frills carrier is a joint venture between Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia, Tata Group and Arun Bhatia’s Telestra Tradeplace Pvt Ltd. AirAsia holds a 49% in the JV, while the Tatas and Bhatia have a 30% and 21% stake, respectively.
AirAsia India, which has a fleet of five A320s, got its operators permit on May 7 last year and began operations on June 12, 2014.
The Federation of Indian Airlines, which represents Jet Airways, SpiceJet, IndiGo, had objected to AirAsia’s entry, arguing that the September 2012 policy change on allowing foreign carriers to invest in Indian airlines was applicable only to existing ones.
“This has been going on for a while — they tried to get the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to audit our AoP... Made us apply for the AoP all over again eleven months after we got it, stating it was given during the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) downgrade. Anyway, we did that and now this. Competition should be in the commercial levels, not backhanded,” the AirAsia India official added.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes had earlier said that the domestic aviation industry had ganged up to stop AirAsia from entering India.