February 27, 2019

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Air asia India seeks fleet exemption to fly abroad

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Air Asia Fleet exemption

Air Asia Group has duly petitioned the Indian government to exempt Air Asia India , its Indian subsidiary from the country’s regulations which governs that when a start-up carrier can begin the international flights. It seeks to scrap the aviation rule formulated by the Indian Government regarding international flights, to allow the carrier to fly overseas and exemption from the minimum fleet requirement of twenty aircrafts to help in enhancing the connectivity to Kuala Lumpur. The exemption request was made by the Malaysian Business Council to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a bilateral presentation at a meeting where both the Indian and Malaysian Prime Ministers were present. Both Vistara Airlines and Air Asia India had sought abolition of the mandatory international flying requirements of 20 aircrafts, and five years of local operations. The Malaysian Council’s suggestion is based on the fact that no Indian carrier flies to Malaysia. This in effect blocks any more flights by Malaysian airlines to India and as the rules stipulates, more flights can be allowed only if both Indian and Malaysian carriers have exhausted 80 per cent of the flights that each of them is allowed to operate.

After extensive consultation with a view to introduce more liberal provisions regarding the same, the Aviation Ministry proposed a 20 aircraft norm to replace the earlier norm. The new rules were approved by the Indian Cabinet in June 2016, making the two new carriers eligible to fly international before they complete five year of domestic flying in India. Further, The Cabinet had cleared the Civil Aviation Policy of 5/20 and replaced it with 0/20. The 5/20 policy mandated the national carriers to have minimum five years of operational experience and fleet of at least twenty aircrafts to go international. The five years of experience by aviation companies was scrapped and brought down to 0/20. As per the stated norms and provisions governing overseas flights, any Indian carrier needs to operate a fleet of 20 aircraft in the country to become eligible to fly abroad. The airline can fly international with the 21st aircraft.

The Malaysian carriers have already exhausted bilateral entitlements and further they cannot add any more flights to India and Indian carriers do not fly to Malaysia, so if the dispensation from 0/20 is granted, the airline may plan to set up international flights in three months after considering various factors. Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun, Executive Chairman Air Asia Berhad looks at the big picture and clearly stated that if the exemption is granted to Air Asia India, carriers will be able to fulfil the gaps and enhance connectivity between India and Malaysia. He further said that if the exemption is granted, it would take probably three months to start international flights.

Air Asia India currently operates eight flights to fifteen destinations across India. Chief Executive Officer Amar Abrol quoted that with current regulations in place, it would likely make its international debut during the second half of 2018. He further added that the current fleet projections put the carrier over the twenty aircraft fleet threshold in or around mid 2018.

He also pointed out that the airline was already at 10 aircraft adding that if the Government allows the waiver it will be a matter of three to six months to get the international flights started.

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