Around two years after the government made it easier for airlines to fly abroad, Indian airlines are gearing up for international runways. Low-cost airline AirAsia India, a joint venture of Tata Sons and Malaysia-based AirAsia Berhad, is likely to start international operations by the end of 2018.
Initially, the Bengaluru-headquartered airline will try to take advantage of the strong markets of AirAsia Berhad. AirAsia India will try to feed into the extensive international network of the AirAsia Group, beginning with daily services to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok from Bengaluru and Kolkata. Some of the routes that the airline has sought permission for are Bengaluru-Kuala Lumpur, Kolkata-Dhaka, and Hyderabad-Kuala Lumpur.
"We are looking at end of 2018 or definitely by early 2019. Our group airlines have a meaningful presence in those two cities (Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok), all we need to do is to go and land there," Business Standard quoted Amar Abrol, the CEO of AirAsia India, as saying. The airline, which currently has 14 aircraft, plans to add at least eight annually for the next five years.
Vistara is also planning to start its international operations with flights to the Gulf and South-East Asian regions in 2018.
The government had relaxed the 5/20 rule in 2016. The carriers were earlier required to have five years of operational experience and a fleet of minimum 20 aircraft to fly overseas. This was applicable to all commercial aviation organisations flying passengers. The 20 aircraft rule is still mandatory, but the requirement of five years of domestic operations has been waived.