Asia’s biggest low-cost carrier, the Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia, is floating a joint venture with Tata Sons, the holding company of India’s largest conglomerate, and Telestra Tradeplace, an investment vehicle of the Bhatia family, to launch a new airline in India. AirAsia will have 49% stake, Tatas 30% and Bhatia will hold 21% in the company, which will be headquartered in Chennai.
The JV hopes to start operations in the last quarter of this year under the AirAsia brand, the 48-year-old AirAsia CEO Fernandes said in a late-evening conference call with the media. AirAsia’s entry is expected to shake up India’s airline sector, which has seen airfares shoot up in recent past. The airline already flies into several south Indian cities, linking them with major Asian hubs at competitive fares.
This is the first foreign direct investment (FDI) after the government relaxed ownership rules, allowing foreign carriers to hold 49% stake in a domestic airline.