Low-cost carrier AirAsia, looking for further expansion, is expected to invest heavily in India to boost its prospects in the country.
The investments are likely to come from both its stakeholders—Tata Sons and AirAsia Investment Ltd. The airline will be aggressively looking towards growing in the Indian market as it currently has only 2.2 per cent of the market share in India and there is immense potential for growth in the country.
As part of its expansion, the airline is adding a seventh aircraft—A 320—to its fleet which will be operational from September 22, 2016. Apparently, this new 180 seater addition is a leased aircraft and was already operating for AirAsia elsewhere in the world.
“We are very much India-focused and we see a huge potential in the Indian market. From an overall perspective, there are 330 million middle class Indians out of which roughly only around 70 million regularly fly. So there is this untapped market waiting to be tapped. We are now connecting Hyderabad, to our network and the Northeast region is another important sector for us,” said Amar Abrol, CEO, AirAsia India.
As part of its expansion, the airline will connect Hyderabad with Bengaluru and Goa on a daily basis besides Bengaluru with Guwahati with a daily service. Currently, the airline is also on a recruitment drive and is conducting recruitment of pilots and cabin crew to cater to its expansion plans.
“It is our endeavor to reach a fleet of 20 aircraft. Our entire team is working towards this and we are constantly evaluating our network and some routes which makes commercial sense for us,” said Abrol.
AirAsia India, which commenced operations in 2014, is a joint venture between Tata Sons Ltd and AirAsia, with AirAsia Investment Ltd holding 49 per cent and Tata Sons Limited holding 49 per cent stake. The two directors of the company—S. Ramadorai who is the chairman and R. Venkataramanan—in their individual capacity, hold 0.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent of shares in the airline. The airline currently flies to Bengaluru, Kochi, Goa, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Pune, Delhi, Guwahati, Imphal and Vizag with a fleet of six A320 aircraft.