India has strange rules for airline operations, says Air Asia

NEW DELHI: Indicating its intentions to fly abroad very soon, proposed airline AirAsia India today trashed the “bizarre” policy of allowing carriers to operate international flights only after five years of domestic operations.

“These are bizarre rules … that you can’t fly abroad before five years and 20 aircraft (fleet) … That rule makes no sense. It is a negative for the Indian airlines.

“I, as a one-plane airline in Malaysia, can fly to India. India is the only country which has such a rule,” Air Asia group CEO Tony Fernandes said

Maintaining that the Indian airline industry has “not done a good job” to explain to the government the importance of aviation for the economy, he said “it is a shame that India has lost many years. See what new airlines in the region have done. India has lost because of vested interests even though it has a lot of talent and economic activities.”

Asked to elaborate what he meant by “vested interests”, Fernandes said “too many people have vested interests as they don’t think what India as a country needs. There is 100 per cent FDI in telecom. Government should tell the people that aviation is good for the people.”

“Most of these negativities come from within the industry and ultimately fails the people. … It is an incredibly self -interested industry,” he said.

Speaking on AirAsia India which is being backed by his carrier, the Tata group and Telestra Tradeplace of Arun Bhatia, he said it would offer cheap tickets by charging for various services including food and preferred seats, besides taking “aggressive” cost-cutting measures.

“There is no such thing as free. There is no free food. If you want a nicer seat, pay for it. We will offer the lowest denominator cost by unbundling the fare,” he said.

However, AirAsia India would offer 15kg of free baggage allowance with each ticket, as per rules here. “(European low-cost carrier) Ryan Air charges for washrooms. We won’t do that but we will give you options,” he said..