Malaysian owner of AirAsia India seeks fleet exemption to fly abroad

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NEW DELHI: The Malaysian owner of AirAsia India has urged New Delhi to allow the carrier to fly overseas, seeking exemption from the minimum fleet requirement of 20 aircraft to help enhance connectivity to Kuala Lumpur.

“If the dispensation from 0/20 is granted, we can start international flights in three months depending on the other factors like slots. The Malaysian carriers have exhausted bilateral entitlements and cannot add any more flights to India. Indian carriers, however, do not at all fly to Malaysia. Exemption to Air Asia India would help increase connectivity between India and Malaysia,” Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun, executive chairman AirAsia Berhad told reporters on Monday.

The exemption request was made by Malaysian Business Council to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to the norms governing overseas flights, any Indian carrier needs to operate a fleet of 20 aircraft in the country to become eligible to fly abroad. The airline can fly international with the 21st aircraft.

Air Asia India will induct its tenth aircraft this month and plans to increase its fleet size to 20 aircraft by the third quarter of next year. The airline, without the exemption, will be able to fly international only after that.

AirAsia India and Vistara Airlines had both sought abolition of the mandatory international-flying requirements of 20 aircraft, and five years of local operations.

The aviation ministry, after extensive consultation, proposed a 20 aircraft norm to replace the earlier norm. The new rules were approved by the Indian cabinet in June last year, making the two new carriers eligible to fly international before they complete five year of domestic flying in India.

AirAsia Berhad and Tata Sons own 49% stake each in AirAsia India and the rest 2% is owned by two Tata executives.

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