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AirAsia India to begin overseas operations by Jan 2019, says CEO

The plan is to connect more and more tier II and III cities in India, wherever A320 can go and also start flying international after crossing 20 aircraft, he said

Press Trust of India  |  Chennai 

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has charted out expansion plans to connect more tier-II and III cities and set a target to commence flights to overseas destinations by January 2019, a top said.

The airliner last week inducted its 16th aircraft and announced the addition of and to its list of destinations.

According to India, Managing Director and CEO, Amar Abrol, the airliner has planned to commence overseas operation by January 2019 once it has 20 or more planes.

"Our strategy is that once we get to 20 planes (operating in domestic operations) we will start flying international. Mostly, it will be to South East Asian countries," he told here.

Stating that 27 per cent of the people who fly with were flying for the first time ever, he said, "So, we are opening up Indian skies. And we are getting lot many more Indians to fly for the first time."

The plan is to connect more and more tier II and III cities in India, wherever can go and also start flying international after crossing 20 aircraft, he said.

Elaborating, he said, the company would serve those markets which were already connected by the airliner's group entities -- AirAsia Malaysia, AirAsia Indonesia, AirAsia Thailand.

"We will be flying mostly to Malaysia, and neighbouring SAARC countries as well. Bangladesh, and so on and so forth," he said.

Asked whether there would be any competition within the itself, as AirAsia and AirAsia Thailand operate, he replied in the affirmative saying, it will be healthy competition between the airlines.

"That is not a problem. I think there is enough demand for AirAsia to grow and AirAsia to grow."

He said the customer would be deciding the flight to a destination, whether it may belong to AirAsia or AirAsia

"For the customer there will not be any difference. Still, it will be an AirAsia plane, AirAsia service. There will not be any difference. Probably there may be (some difference) in the cabin crew," he said

On pricing, he said, "AirAsia Malaysia is an independent entity, is an independent entity. We will price according to what we feel is right. But, ultimately it is the consumers who will decide which flight they want to take."

Referring to the Centre's ambitious UDAAN scheme which aims to connect under-served cities, Abrol said, the airliner was not participating (in the scheme) because the flights owned by them were

The government's ambitious UDAN (Ude Desh Ke Aam Naagrik) scheme, under which fares are capped at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour flight. It aims at boosting air connectivity to and from unserved and under-served airports and making flying more affordable.

"UDAAN scheme is typically meant for 10-seater or 15- seater ATRs. We have big planes. Hence we are not participating in Udan Scheme per se," Abrol said.

Stating that AirAsia was already connecting metros to non-metros other than Bengaluru-Chennai, Bengaluru-New Delhi, he said, the focus will be on tier II and III cities.

"Our focus has been on tier II and III cities. Because, we believe that is where quite a lot of demand is," he said.

The company recently introduced flights in the Bhubaneswar-route.

"We are connecting to Bhubaneswar and we are not necessarily connecting to New Delhi, because that is a market which is already served very well", he said.

currently flies to 17 destinations with its hubs in Bengaluru, and is a joint venture between and AirAsia, with AirAsia Investment Limited.

AirAsia India commenced operations in June 2014 and currently flies to several cities in the domestic market.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, March 04 2018. 13:39 IST