Tony Fernandes, the founder of Air Asia, has acquired Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI). This gives the Malaysian citizen a status on par with NRIs in accessing financial and economic benefits, multiple entries into India and multi-purpose visa, aside from accruing financial and economic benefits enjoyed by the latter.
"I am also delighted to share that I have been granted the Overseas Citizenship of India status. India has always been close to my heart as my father was from this country and Goa is my ancestral homeland," Fernandes said in a statement, according to the Economic Times.
The AirAsia founder has applied for OCI in March this year.
He also explained that AirAsia was committed towards its India operations. "Since then there has been no looking back and AirAsia's commitment to India has only kept growing stronger. We are here with a vision to revolutionise air travel in India and it is also our long term goal to link India to ASEAN and beyond," he said, according to IANS.
Fernandes earlier made news when he favoured scrapping the 5/20 rule that states airlines can fly abroad only if they have been in business for 5 years and have at least 20 aircraft in the company's fleet. This rule is supported by the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) comprising Jet Airways, Air India, IndiGo, Spice Jet and Go Air, the companies who had earlier complied by the rule to qualify for the privilege.
Who is Tony Fernandes
Born in Kuala Lumpur to an Indian father and Kristang mother, Tony Fernandes was in the music business. "When the music business failed to embrace the internet, I thought it was game, set and match for the industry and I quit," Fernandes told BBC in an interview in 2010.
He then went on to buy AirAsia – the heavily indebted subsidiary of Malaysian government-owned company DRB-Hicom – in September 2001 at just 25 pence. He reformed the airline as a short-haul low-cost carrier and went on to build it into a well-known brand. AirAsia now has 82 aircrafts flying to 68 destinations.
Fernandes was named "Businessman of the Year" by Forbes in 2010.