No-frills carrier AirAsia India has said it will pursue its growth plans at full throttle from March with the induction of more aircraft and expansion of the route network.
As part of its summer schedule from March to October, which is yet to be finalised, the budget carrier would be looking at 100 frequencies per week and adding one aircraft every month in the fleet, AirAsia India chief executive Mittu Chandilya said here last week.
“Full expansion will take place from March when we introduce more flights and new routes. We also plan to induct one aircraft per month…from March,” Chandilya said.
AiAsia India was likely to operate 100 flights per week during its summer schedule, Chandilya said, adding, “We are looking at many Tier-II cities. There are many pick and choose (like) Patna, Lucknow, Raipur.”
One of the four budget airlines in the country, AirAsia India at present operates to Goa, Chennai, Kochi, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Pune from its Bengaluru hub with a fleet of three Airbus 320 planes.
He said the airline’s plan to launch flights from the national capital was also on track and it was just waiting for the foggy season to get over. “Delhi is on cards, we are very excited about it,” he said, adding much would also depend on the regulations.
Expressing confidence that the airline would break-even soon, Chandilya said a low-cost carrier should have 100 per cent low fares. “Prices (in the budget carrier segment) have become very sporadic, at times high, at times low,” he said.
Chandilya, however, did not give any time-line for the break-even, which the company earlier expected to achieve by December last year.
The airline had reportedly incurred a net loss of about Rs 29 crore in the September quarter of the current fiscal, after recording a net loss of Rs 26 crore during the June quarter, when it operated only for 18 days.
AirAsia India launched its flight services on June 12 last year.
Pitching for scrapping of the ‘5/20 Rule’ which mandates an Indian carrier to serve for five years in domestic routes and maintain a fleet of at least 20 aircraft before flying abroad, Chandilya said AirAsia being a domestic carrier should be allowed to fly abroad.
“If the government is very keen to increase connectivity and growing presence of the domestic airlines in international markets then it should not have such a rule,” he said.
Interestingly, domestic airlines’ umbrella body, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) is vehemently opposed to any relaxation in norms, which allow new entrants to fly abroad without first serving the local market.
The government has proposed to replace the ‘5/20 Rule’ with another set of norms.
As of now, GoAir, which completed five years of service in November 2010, is the only one among the established airlines not flying abroad because of this rule as it does not have 20 planes in the fleet.
Both AirAsia India and Vistara are completely new in the market.
AirAsia India is a three-way joint venture between Malaysian budget airline AirAsia, Tata Sons and Telestra Tradeplace, with AirAsia holding majority 49 per cent stake in the carrier.
The airline carried 3.28 lakh passenger in the first seven months of its operations (June 2014-December 2014) with a market share of 0.5 per cent.