AirAsia India gets no objection certificate

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) Budget passenger carrier AirAsia Thursday said its proposal for setting up a new airline has received no objection certificate (NOC) from the civil aviation ministry.

"I am thrilled to announce that AirAsia India has received NOC approval from the government of India. Very exciting and hugely profitable. I want to praise th government of India for quickest approval ever in granting NOC for Airasia India," Tony Fernandes, AirAsia's Indian-origin founder and chief executive, wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

"This is the fastest an NOC has been granted, and with this we will focus on obtaining the air operating permit," said Mittu Chandilya, chief executive, AirAsia India.

"We will continue with our preparations and get ourselves ready for take-off once the air operating permit is acquired."

The air operating permit has to be obtained from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and is necessary to start the airline's operations.

The NOC from the ministry would enable the proposed airline to import the three aircraft it has in its fleet to its operational base of Chennai.

The airline in its application proposed to start operations with a few aircraft and eventually operate around 37 in the next five years. Last month, the proposed airline obtained security clearance from the home ministry.

The low-cost carrier (LCC) has said it will operate from Chennai and focus on providing connectivity to tier-II and -III (smaller) cities.

In its proposal which got the nod from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in April, AirAsia said it intended to hold 49 percent stake in the joint venture (JV).

Tata Sons will hold a 30 percent stake in the JV and Arun Bhatia-promoted Telestra Tradeplace 21 percent. The initial investment approved for the airline stands at Rs.80.98 crore.

The FIPB approval allowed the proposed budget passenger carrier to initiate the process for rolling out the seventh scheduled domestic carrier in the Indian skies, after receiving regulatory clearance from the civil aviation ministry.

Currently, there are six scheduled domestic airlines in the country -- Air India, Jet Airways, Jet Lite, SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir. The operating licence of Kingfisher Airlines was suspended last year.

The approval came after a change in the foreign capital investment rules in the Indian domestic aviation sector initiated by the government last year by allowing foreign airlines to invest up to 49 percent in private domestic carriers.

The proposed AirAsia India would have a fleet of just three Airbus A320 aircraft and a staff of over 200 to start the operations.

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