'Considering tourism market, aviation industry in India small'
Bangalore: AirAsia Group Chief Executive officer Tony Fernandes on Thursday said considering the population and potential tourism market India has, the aviation industry in the country is very small.
"....For the size of the population and for the size of the potential tourist market, the aviation industry is very small. There is huge scope for fourth airline, I would tell my competitors this is not about one airline or two airline or three airline- that all of us should work together in making it more affordable for Indians to fly, to help lot of Indians to fly overseas for business and also to bring people to this wonderful country," Fernandes told reporters here.
Speaking at the press conference to celebrate the launch of AirAsia India that was attended by Ratan Tata and S Ramadorai (he said "for the size of Indian population it is very small."
While Tata is the Chief Advisor to Airasia India, Ramadorai is the Chairman of the Board of the airline.
Thanking the Centre for its help in launching AirAsia India, he said "obviously we want to reduce cost as much as possible and transfer that to growth....; we hope that the government of India, and the state governments in the country will look at ATF, will look at developing low cost infrastructure going forward."
Breaking into Indian domestic aviation space, AirAsia India on June 12 had launched its operation with a flight from here to Goa in a foray that is expected to intensify the fare war among the no-frill airlines in the loss-hit sector.
The country's fourth budget carrier has also announced the addition of Kochi to its existing network from July 20.
AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya said "we have 302 employees as of today."
He said "we are looking at new networks, new destinations as we go forward. I also want to thank government of India....We have a government in place which stands for change and I'm very excited about what we are going to be able to do in aviation."
AirAsia India is a 49:30:21- joint venture among Malaysian carrier AirAsia, Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia's Telestra Tradeplace.
AirAsia had announced its joint venture with Tata Sons and Telestra Tradeplace in February 2013, four months after the then UPA government allowed up to 49 per cent FDI in domestic airlines by foreign carriers.
Ratan Tata said "the potential for air travel in India is enormous; the base of the pyramid has not yet been tapped."
Highlighting the potential of air travel in India due to population and growing prosperity, he said: "Air travel is going to be very important form of connectivity for leisure, business and essential services."
"The airline has begun its operations, conducive or not so conducive, AirAisia is here to stay," Tata said.
Responding to a question on synergy between AirAsia and Tata-Singapore Airlines, he said they will probably compete with each other, but clarified that it won't be as enemies".
Outlining his view on India, Fernandes in response to a question, said "we need to accelerate the planes coming here, the load factor has been great, the response has been great....I'm more optimistic about things happening here."
He said "We are all very bullish about the Indian market."
On expansion to other parts of the country, he hinted at North East, calling it an "appealing destination."
To a question on expectations from the government on the budget, Fernandes said "....ATF from the state government restricts domestic tourism....; airport charges are very much higher here."
Pointing out that liberalisation will encourage more airlines to come in and grow, he said government should facilitate business.