New Delhi: AirAsia India will begin operating flights in the country from June 12, with ticket sales starting from Friday, the new carrier's Malaysian parent AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said on Thursday.
AirAsia India, a joint venture between AirAsia, Tata Sons Arun Bhatia's Telestra Tradeplace, was granted flying licence by aviation regulator DGCA earlier this month after 9-month- long wait and various legal hurdles.
Fernandes announced the launch of flights on micro blogging platform Twitter, saying that the "first flight (will be on) June 12" and ticket sales will open Friday.
It could not be immediately ascertained as to what will be the route of the first flights for AirAsia India, which has made Chennai its hub. There are conjectures that the first flight could be from or to this southern city.
The existing carriers operating in India include low-cost private players like IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, as also full service airlines like Jet Airways and state-run Air India.
AirAsia has been preparing its ground-work for launch of flights since a long time, including by putting in place the required manpower including Mittu Chandilya as its CEO.
AirAsia India, whose top officials have promised to offer low and competitive airfares, will focus on connecting Tier-II cities to begin with.
The start-up carrier recently completed inspections, including the Airbus A-320 craft, monitored by the DGCA. These test flights went on for over 10 hours across five sectors as per the DGCA regulations.
AirAsia India plans to have a 10-aircraft fleet within a year of start of operations and these planes would be drawn from A-320 family of aircraft ordered by the AirAsia Group. On March 22, AirAsia India received its first A-320 aircraft configured in an all-economy layout with 180 seats.
"We will be launching flights in about two to three months. We would soon be filing our flight schedules for approval from the DGCA, and after the approval we would seek slots at the different airports," Chandilya said after getting flying license on May 7.
The new airline was also looking at destinations including Trichy, Kochi and Kolkata, he said.
Asked about the fares, he had said they will about 35 percent lower than the current market rate.
Earlier this year, Fernandes had said bthat AirAsia India would offer "dramatically low" airfares and would take air travel to masses in the country.
Known to have revolutionised the airline market in Malaysia and some other Asian countries through low-cost airfares, AirAsia chief had said that the strategy for India would be to offer "cheapest" possible tickets.
"We have to be the cheapest and stimulate the market. We have to allow the common man to fly. That is my message to India that flying is not only for the rich," he said.
High taxes and other costs have been a major reason for AirAsia thinking to start its domestic flights in India with Chennai as a hub and not the bigger centres like Delhi and Mumbai.
AirAsia is however hopeful that more state governments would open to the idea of lowering air travel costs.