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AI Express, AirAsia India exploring synergies ahead of merger

The name of the budget airline has been changed as part of ongoing merger process

airasia-rep-image Representational image | PTI

Air India Express and AirAsia India, which has changed its name to AIX Connect, are exploring synergies in terms of having unified customer touch points ahead of their proposed merger, according to an official.

Both the low-cost airlines and full-service carriers—Air India and Vistara—are owned by Tata group.

On November 2, Air India said an operational review process is underway to integrate budget carrier AirAsia India with Air India Express, and the merger is likely to be completed by the end of 2023. Post-merger, the entity will be branded as Air India Express.

AirAsia India has changed its name to AIX Connect Pvt Ltd, according to data available with the corporate affairs ministry.

The official said the name of the budget airline has been changed as part of the ongoing merger process.

Both airlines are looking at synergies with respect to customer touch points, such as having a common website, social media handles and call centre. Other aspects, including common boarding cards and baggage tags, are also being looked at, the official added.

Specific details could not be ascertained.

AirAsia India was launched in 2014 while Air India Express, which is the international low-cost arm of Air India, started operations back in 2005.

Tata group is in the process of consolidating its airline operations, as part of which the low-cost carrier business will comprise Air India Express and AIX Connect.

Air India Express CEO Aloke Singh will be the chief of the low-cost airline business from January 1 next year.

"The two constituent airlines will continue to have the full complement of regulatory post-holders until the merger is complete but, for now, a single CEO will provide the clarity and singular accountability necessary to navigate the process," Air India CEO and managing director Campbell Wilson said in an internal communication last week.

Last month, Tata group also announced the merger of Vistara with Air India under a deal wherein Singapore Airlines will also acquire a 25.1 per cent stake in Air India.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the transaction, which will make Air India the country's largest international carrier and second-largest domestic airline, is expected to be completed by March 2024.

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