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Rediff.com  » Business » We will go where no one goes, says AirAsia chief

We will go where no one goes, says AirAsia chief

July 04, 2014 08:57 IST

We will go where no one goes, says AirAsia chief

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BS Reporter in Bengaluru

AirAsia India, the latest entrant in India’s low-cost airline segment, is considering routes different from those taken by other airlines.

These included the Northeast which, the company thought, offered an exciting opportunity, said Tony Fernandes, chief executive of AirAsia Group.

“We will go places where no one goes.

“We are different animals.

“We want to fly more people, make flying more affordable and reduce the cost as much as possible because the lower the cost of the ticket, the greater the affordability,” Fernandes told reporters in Bengaluru.

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Image: AirAsia flight crew members take off AirAsia Japan CEO Yoshinori Odagiri's (C) shirt to show the company's uniform underneath during an AirAsia Group news conference in Tokyo July 1, 2014.
Photographs: Issei Kato/Reuters

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“The Northeast, given its tourism potential, looks exciting to me. We will launch services wherever we can.”

He also officially announced the launch of AirAsia India’s operations in India from here.

The airline had started flights between Bengaluru and Goa, as well as between Bengaluru and Chennai, in June.

It is set to launch services between Bengaluru and Kochi on July 20.

AirAsia India is a joint venture between AirAsia, Tata Sons and Telestra Tradeplace.

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Image: Stewardesses pose in front of an Airbus A340 passenger jet.
Photographs: Charles Platiau/Reuters

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About a decade ago, AirAsia started with two aircraft in Malaysia, with 2,000 passengers. Now, it had increased the count to 200 aircraft and 51 million passengers, Fernandes said.

“AirAsia is about people, doing things differently,” Fernandes said, adding the company wanted a billion Indians to fly and bust the myth that flying was only for the rich.

“To make every Indian fly at affordable prices, promote tourism and create jobs and market that didn’t exist. . . since we launched on June 12, we have been having 90 per cent plane load factor.

"Our model is something people have been waiting for.”

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Image: An AirAsia aircraft.
Photographs: Reuters

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He called upon the Centre to reduce taxes on aviation turbine fuel so that every Indian could fly.

“We want the Indian government to do three things in the forthcoming Budget -- reduce taxes on ATF; reduce airport charges, which are much higher than in other countries in the region; and lift the five-year ceiling to fly abroad,” he said.

“We are bullish about the Indian market.

“A change of government is not detrimental.

“We are happy with the 100-day aviation policy of the government.”

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Image: Tony Fernandes, chief executive of AirAsia Group.
Photographs: Reuters

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Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, said, “The potential air travel in India is enormous.

“The base of the pyramid has not yet been tapped to the extent it should have been.

“I am convinced there is preference for air travel and for a growing population, air travel is important for connectivity, leisure, business and as an essential service.”

“AirAsia is going to be a game-changer, irrespective of the situation being conducive or not.

“It is a dream come true, as we always wanted to be back in the aviation business.

“I am happy we are able to launch our air service and bring it within the reach of the common man,” Tata said.

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Image: An AirAsia aircraft.
Photographs: Reuters

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