Budget airline company AirAsia India finally made its India debut on Thursday with its maiden flight taking off from Bangalore to Goa, almost 15 months after the announcement of the joint venture between Malaysia based – AirAsia, Tata Sons and Telestra Tradeplace.
The first flight between the high tech city – Bangalore and the popular destination – Goa took wings at 3.44 pm. The airline company's Bangalore-Chennai flight is expected to start from June 19.
The airline waited for almost 9 months to receive its Air Operating Permit. The excitement was hence visible with the number of tweets and selfies posted by Air Asia chief Tony Fernandes and CEO Mittu Chandilya. Fernandes tweeted "Getting ready for the first flight. All passengers on board. Full flight. India here we come."
The entry of AirAsia India is expected to make flying more affordable for the passengers, as it claims to offer low pricing model, while the existing carriers have already started offering competitive fares much before the launch of AirAsia's operations.
Sticking to its claims, the airline last month announced its introductory fares at Rs 999 on Bangalore-Goa and Bangalore-Chennai routes, which was immediately followed by offering competitive pricing by exiting carriers like IndiGo and SpiceJet.
The airline will begin its operations from the South and aims to have pan India presence by the end of this year. The airline is looking at inducting one aircraft every month, as part of its fleet expansion strategy.
"We will have one of the fastest growths in the Indian industry, it will be at least a plane a month from the proposed launch. And we hope to sustain that atleast for the next 3-4 years," Chandilya had told dna earlier.
The airline will focus on the Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
The airline saw several delays in its planned take off as the approval was first held up due to the Lok Sabha elections. Further delay happened with airline battling legal issues with the other airlines and a case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
Swamy recently wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of India asking him to terminate the launch of the airline. Responding to the letter, Tata Sons on Thursday issued a statement, stating certain misleading assertions have been made in the letter by the BJP leader.
"Vested interests, inimical to free and fair competition that can benefit air travellers, are spreading canards to jeopardise the operations of Air Asia India," said the statement.
It further said, "New airlines, like AirAsia India, will immensely benefit consumers, making air travel more affordable. This has already been witnessed in movements in air fares in the last two weeks, thereby helping to expand the growth of civil aviation in the country."