Delhi HC rejects plea to withdraw overseas permit to AirAsia India

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Published: July 30, 2019 2:40:27 AM

AirAsia India could soon be flying into international skies with the Delhi High Court refusing a plea to stop the award of overseas permit to the budget carrier.

According to senior government officials, the airline may get the nod to carry international passengers by October 2019.

AirAsia India could soon be flying into international skies with the Delhi High Court refusing a plea to stop the award of overseas permit to the budget carrier. According to senior government officials, the airline may get the nod to carry international passengers by October 2019.

“There is no restriction (on award of licence) from the high court. The decision on AirAsia’s request will be taken on merits. It even fulfills the criteria laid under the old civil aviation policy,” a senior official told FE.

AirAsia, a joint venture between Tata group and Malaysia-based AirAsia Berhad, applied for an international licence to the aviation ministry in January 2019 after it completed the regulatory requirement of at least 20 aircraft in the fleet. It currently has 22 Airbus 320s aircraft and plans to take its fleet strength to 30 by 2019 end.

In June, the airline completed five years of operations in the domestic market.

AirAsia’s permission to fly abroad has been held up due to ongoing CBI investigations into allegations of lobbying for relaxing international flying norms for airlines. Even the Enforcement Directorate had lodged a money laundering case against some of the AirAsia executives.

The high court has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to file the status of investigations by September 26.
Under the new civil aviation policy in 2016, the conditions for obtaining international flying rights was relaxed to minimum 20 aircraft in the fleet, dropping the 5/20 rule which stipulated at least five years experience in the domestic market along with 20 planes.

Vistara, also owned by Tata group, had to wait around eight months to get government’s permission for flying abroad due to this case. The government had formed a committee of cabinet-ranked ministers to decide if an international flying permit should be given to Vistara. The official did not rule out a similar mechanism for deciding AirAsia’s request as well.

Vistara received its foreign licence in March, just before the announcement of general elections. The full-service carrier is launching international operations from Delhi and Mumbai to Singapore starting next month.

International capacities by Indian carriers is down 15% year-on-year due to closure of Jet Airways.

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