AirAsia Berhad has sought relaxation of the mandatory 20 aircraft rule so that its joint venture airline with the Tata group can fly overseas, with a note on this shared with Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Malaysian Business Council recently.
AirAsia Berhad has sought relaxation of the mandatory 20 aircraft rule so that its joint venture airline with the Tata group can fly overseas, with a note on this shared with Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Malaysian Business Council recently. “We are seeking a waiver or part-waiver of the 0/20 rule,” said Kamarudin Meranun, Executive Chairman, Air Asia Berhad. “If the government abolishes the condition of having a minimum of 20 aircraft, AirAsia India will be able to start operating international flights in 2-3 months time, depending upon the availability of slots,” Meranun added.
He said that the Malaysian carriers are constrained as they have exhausted their quota of seats under bilateral traffic rights. Further, because Indian carriers do not fly into Malaysia they can’t ask for more flights. As per rules, more flights can be allowed only if both Indian and Malaysian carriers have exhausted 80 per cent of flights that each of them are allowed to operate.
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While clearing the new Civil Aviation Policy last year, the government had partially abolished the then 5/20 rule — under which only airlines with five years of domestic experience and 20 aircraft in the fleet were allowed to fly international — by removing the five years condition.
However, the pre-requisite of having at least 20 aircraft in their fleet was retained. Meranun also said that the government has assured them that it is “looking into our suggestion.” On the issue of the government’s ambitious regional connectivity scheme, AirAsia India CEO and MD Amar Abrol said that his airline might consider participating in the next round of bidding.
“We are not participating in RCS because our planes are 180-seaters and that doesn’t bode well for the kind of cities that need to be connected under the scheme. However, we never say never. “We have carried out an initial study on a 72-seater plane and if we see an opportunity then certainly in the next round of bidding we will participate,” Abrol added.
In the first round of bidding, five operators including Air India’s regional arm Alliance Air, Deccan Aviation and Air Odisha were awarded 120 regional routes. At the same time, AirAsia Berhad has welcomed the recently concluded Air Services Agreement between India and Malaysia.
“There hasn’t been improvement in terms of traffic rights since the last agreement in 2010 and all of those seats are being used by Malaysian airlines coming into India. Now increased rights, although not much, will help (in operating more flights). This is a start and hopefully there will be more coming from the government,” Aireen Omar, CEO, AirAsia Berhard said.