National carrier Air India and startup carriers AirAsia India and Vistara are keen to be part of the domestic airlines group FIA but a member of the group is allegedly blocking their entry in the club, sources said. At present, Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir are the members of the FIA.
According to industry sources, FIA is sitting “pretty” on Air India’s request for a re-entry in the grouping since more than six months now, allegedly due to resistance from IndiGo, they said.
“The application of AirAsia India and Vistara for acquiring its membership is also pending since a long time. IndiGo has some personal agenda against these airlines and so it does not want them to be in the grouping,” the sources said.
IndiGo, however, has denied the charge, saying it has no authority to prevent any airline from joining the industry body, Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA).
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Significantly, both IndiGo and FIA had objected to AirAsia India’s application for grant of air operator permit on the ground that the foreign direct investment norms for investment by foreign airlines in Indian carriers were applicable only for the existing airlines and not the greenfield projects. Moreover, FIA has also filed a petition in Delhi High Court, demanding cancellation of approvals given to Vistara, the joint venture airline of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines. Air India was one of the founding members of the apex domestic airlines’ body, when it came into being in 2006.
However, in 2014 when the Federation opposed the government’s ground handling policy, Air India decided to pull out of the grouping on its own. FIA spokesperson was not available for comments. IndiGo, however, said that it has no authority to block entry or re-entry of any airline in the FIA. “We are no one to block (any one). We have no blocking right (the entry of a new member),” IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh said.
Industry sources, however, said that a domestic airline’s body is incomplete without the presence of the national carrier, and that its recognition can also be “withdrawn” on these grounds. “Had we been so influential (blocking an airline’s entry) we would have managed slots at Pune airport, which have been granted to other carriers despite we applying first,” an IndiGo official said on the condition of anonymity.