In the domestic market, Air Asia has substantially increased its operations by expanding its capacity and it flies over 25,000 passengers every day.
Air Asia India is all set to launch international flights from September end. The airline had sought permission from the government this January.
The airline is a joint venture between the Tatas, who have a 51 per cent stake, and Tony Fernandes-controlled Air Asia, which holds the rest of the stake. Sanjay Kumar, chief operating officer of the airline, said: “Our plan is to first fly to the Southeast Asian market and start with flights to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Our target is that we will fly about 7-8 per cent of our total available seat kilometres to international locations in the first year of operations.”
Kumar said while the Indian locations have not been decided, it would be perhaps from Delhi, Bengaluru or Kolkata. The eventual plan is to fly from most of the 19 destinations that it currently flies in and add in another two for international destinations.
However, the plan for the second year is to go beyond Southeast Asia to West Asia, China as well as CIS countries in the next phase, which would require about four planes. The CIS countries are: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine.
Kumar said slots were available for the Thailand and Malaysia routes, however, the carrier hoped to apply for some that have been vacated by Jet Airways in the West Asia if it got permission by that time to fly abroad. “While we will compete with our Malaysian partners Air Asia, we will try and minimise the competition as much as possible. Our main battle will be with IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air India, which is putting in more flights in these routes.”
In the domestic market, Air Asia has substantially increased its operations by expanding its capacity and it flies over 25,000 passengers every day. So, from Delhi, the number of departures has increased from 14 to 31 per day in the past three months. It has also got additional eight slots, which have been vacated by Jet in Mumbai temporarily, and have launched 10 flights from Mumbai daily.
As a result, Air Asia has been able to push its operations by putting in 164 daily flights across the country from 19 destinations.
Kumar said with the firms’s focus on corporate flyers, flight timings have been rejigged in many key routes so that travellers can fly out in the morning and return by evening. This has been done on routes such as Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Bengaluru.
The airline, which received its 21st plane recently, is set to double its fleet by April next year, after which it will have 40 Airbus A320 planes. Most of the additional planes will come in the later part of this year and in the beginning of next year and Air Asia is already talking to prospective companies
to take aircraft on lease. However, it is expected to add in two more aircraft to the fleet in June and July.