New Delhi: AirAsia India on Thursday announced it has received the crucial 'No Objection Certificate' from the Civil Aviation Ministry, with the Malaysian parent company's chief Tony Fernandes terming the development as "very exciting".
Though NOC was issued by the Ministry last week, this was the first formal statement by the AirAsia CEO on microblogging site Twitter.
"I am thrilled to announce that Airasia India has received NOC approval from the government of India. Very exciting and hugely profitable," Fernandes said in a tweet.
With the NOC in hand, AirAsia India would now have to apply to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for its Scheduled Operator's Permit (SOP or the flying permit), which is the final step before it can start its flight operations.
The DGCA grants the SOP after vetting the preparations of a start-up airline to launch flights by examining issues like availability of aircraft, manpower to operate flights as well as on the ground, aircraft parking space at airports and engineering facilities.
The NOC would also enable AirAsia India to import the first of the three aircraft to Chennai, which would be its headquarters.
AirAsia India, a joint venture between the Malaysian airline AirAsia (which would own 49 percent stake), the Tatas (30 percent) and the Telstra Tradeplace owned by Arun Bhatia (21 percent), plans to start operations within this financial year itself.
The start-up airline had been granted security clearances by the Union Home Ministry last month.
Currently, AirAsia operates in Thailand and Malaysia and connects Chennai, Bangalore, Tiruchirappalli, Kochi and Kolkata in India.
Tata Sons have recently announced that they plan to launch another airline in India with Singapore Airlines and have sent their own application to the FIPB for approval. Tatas would own a 51 percent stake in this venture.
AirAsia India, which was granted formal approval by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board in April, currently has a fleet of three Airbus A-320 aircraft and over 200 employees, including pilots, engineers and ground staff.
The parent company, AirAsia, had submitted a request to start the joint venture to launch AirAsia India in February this year.
In a statement, AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya said "This is the fastest an NOC has been granted and with this, we will focus on obtaining the Air Operating Permit. We will continue with our preparations and get ourselves ready for take-off once the Air Operating Permit is acquired."
He said the new airline would "look forward towards being one of the dynamic contributors to the development of the Indian aviation industry."
The statement said AirAsia India was "confident that it will be able to replicate the success of its counterparts in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, enabling people to fly affordably through superior operational performance by emphasizing a focused and disciplined cost structure which will tremendously benefit the Indian consumer."