AirAsia, which recently formed a joint venture with the Tatas to start an airline in India, is expected to begin operation in the country by the end of this year. The company said it would not operate in airports that levy high charges, such as Delhi and Mumbai, and focus on more tier-II cities.
"We will choose airports that don't have a high cost. For instance, we won't fly to Mumbai to Delhi anytime soon. GVK's airport is costly, so we won't fly there," said AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes during an interaction with select journalists here on Saturday.
"We are waiting for NOCs (no-objection certificates) and AOC (air operator's certificate), but things are looks promising and moving at right direction. Our hope is we can start this year," he added.
Fernandes said south India was a fantastic market and it would be the gateway for people who want to visit southeast Asia and beyond. He noted that most south-eastern countries had a deep connection with south India. The airline will start with three aircraft and will launch a new one every month.
To a question on whether the airline is losing two key markets (Delhi and Mumbai), Fernandes said, "Certainly not."
"You have to change your vision. When we started the business in Kuala Lumpur, people asked me how can you start an airline, when other airlines are losing money in Malaysia. Similarly, they are asking me now - when Vijay Mallya, Naresh Goel couldn't, how can you? My reply - you just have to watch us doing it."
People and cost are the two factors that attract traffic. Plus, there are a lot of non-traditional ways to create the demand, he added.
Commenting on his agenda during his meeting with government officials, he said, "Educate them on our business model. The low-cost airline industry has failed. There is no two ways about it. So, people are willing to listen to your ideas as well. That helps."
According to him, bureaucracy is bad everywhere. "When we met the government officials six months ago, we were so impressed. We have been to lot of countries; we can tell you that we were really impressed with what we saw. There is a desire to make things happen."