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Vested interests jeopardising AirAsia: Tata Sons

June 13, 2014 08:18 IST

Hours after AirAsia India launched its maiden flight, Tata Sons, a stakeholder in the carrier, accused ‘vested interests, inimical to free and fair competition’ of ‘spreading canards to jeopardise the operations’.

The Tatas, a partner in the new low-cost carrier with Malaysia's AirAsia and Arun Bhatia's Telestra Tradeplace, came out with a strong reaction to BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's charges against AirAsia India, terming them as ‘misleading’.

“Vested interests, inimical to free and fair competition that can benefit air travellers, are spreading canards to jeopardise the operations of AirAsia India,” Tata Sons said in a statement.

Asserting that AirAsia India had received all permissions from the government and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to launch operations, it said: "Despite various applications made, amongst others, by Dr Swamy, no injunctions have been ordered by any court restraining AirAsia India from commencing its operations."

The Delhi High Court is seized of the matter and AirAsia India and Tata Sons shall honour the ruling of the court, it added.

AirAsia India became the country's fourth budget carrier to start operations, with its first flight taking off from Bangalore's KempegowdaInternationalAirport for Goa.

The carrier was granted a flying licence by aviation regulator DGCA last month, after a nine-month-long wait and various legal hurdles.

Swamy had written to the Election Commission, the DGCA and the Civil Aviation Ministry not to grant a license to AirAisa India on the grounds that the matter was being dealt with by the courts and it would "constitute criminal misconduct".

Tata Sons said the entry of new airlines such as AirAsia India will immensely benefit consumers, making air travel more affordable.

On a claim by Swamy regarding Ratan Tata being "summoned" by an Italian criminal court in a matter related to the sale of helicopters by AgustaWestland to India, it said: "Tata was not summoned by the Italian criminal court. Tata voluntarily appeared as a witness, at the request of Orsi, former CEO of AgustaWestland."

His deposition before the court only "related to his interactions with Orsi relating to the joint venture between the Tatas and AW and had no connection whatsoever with the supply of helicopters from AW to the Government of India," the statement said.

Tata Sons clarified that Indian Rotorcraft Ltd (IRL), Tata Sons' joint venture with  AW, had "no connection whatsoever with AW's supply of AW101 military helicopters to the Government of India."

IRL's business proposition is to assemble AW119ke helicopters at a facility in Hyderabad for export to AW for it to sell to customers. IRL's business remit does not include any selling activity for defence-related entities, it said.

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