It's official; AirAsia dares IndiGo in open war

It's official; AirAsia dares IndiGo in open war

Bringing its fight with competing carrier IndiGo out in the open, Malaysia's AirAsia group chief Tony Fernandes on Tuesday tweeted that any attempt to oppose the entry of start-up airline AirAsia India would make the new carrier "stronger and smarter".

" @mittuchandilya exciting plans for Airasia India. Whatever Indigo tries to do to stop us it just makes us stronger and smarter. Well done," Fernandes tweeted on Tuesday, in an open display of hostilities.

Mittu Chandilya, CEO of AirAsia India, was however silent. AirAsia India is a 49:30:21 joint venture between Malaysian no-frills carrier AirAsia, Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia's Telestra TradePlace.

Fernandes' tweet came in the backdrop of IndiGo and the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) earlier opposing the entry of AirAsia India on the grounds that the government's policy to allow foreign direct investment by a foreign airline in a domestic carrier was only meant for an existing Indian carriers and not new ones.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has also moved Delhi High Court opposing the entry of AirAsia.

Soon after AirAsia India applied to the aviation regulator DGCA to secure the most-crucial flying permit, IndiGo and FIA wrote a letter to the government opposing it.

"IndiGo's primary objection opposing the application of AirAsia India Private Ltd for grant of licence to operate a new greenfield scheduled airline in India is based on the grounds that it is not permitted under the foreign direct investment policy as enunciated by the government," it said.

However, over-ruling the objections, AirAsia India was granted the flying permit by the DGCA earlier this month. The government had in April last year cleared AirAsia's proposal to invest Rs 80.98 crore in AirAsia India.

Earlier, the airline had claimed that its fares could be 25-30 per cent lower than those charged by other airlines.

Meanwhile, Air Passenger Association of India (APAI) has termed the opposition to AirAsia's entry as "lack of confidence in business" and said that any move which brings down the fares should be welcomed.

"It (opposition) shows the lack of confidence in business. Any competition in the segment should be welcomed, particularly if it helps the passengers and brings down the fares," APAI president D. Sudhakara Reddy said here. 

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