AirAsia is holding discussions with Tata Group to decide on the future of AirAsia India and is currently assessing whether to invest in India operations or expand in ASEAN nations, Group CEO Tony Fernandes said.
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The Bengaluru-based airline is a joint venture with Tata Sons that holds 51 percent stake in the carrier, while the remaining 49 percent is with AirAsia Investment Limited.
"India is a competitive market, tough for outsiders to come in. They are not welcoming… We have had fantastic partners in Tata Group… It is now… let's know where we are strong, where we are good at and let's not have an ego and if things don't feel right, then we will look at other options. We are in discussion with Tatas right now," Fernandes said at a CAPA Centre for Aviation Live event on December 9.
"We are strong in South East Asia, that’s our sweet spot. India has been fantastic... we have built a lot of connectivity to India. Our brand wouldn’t have been well known without AirAsia India. Whether we should put money to continue in India or to expand in ASEAN, that's a discussion I am having with my partners in India and there will be some announcements one way or the other," Fernandes added.
The airline started operations in 2014 and currently occupies 7.1% share in the domestic civil aviation market.
Talking about the group, Fernandes said that AirAsia may have to return some aircraft in the near term as demand for air travel will be weak at least during 2021 but is hopeful of a strong recovery in 2022 and 2023.
"Airlines are either not taking that many deliveries or are involved in sale and leaseback… Flying is not going to come back in 2021, but definitely in 2022-2023. I am a topline man, we can take delivery of all aircraft ordered but in the short term, we may have to return planes.
"We believe we will come back strongly..Capital raise exercise to take place over the next two-three months. Domestic is 50 percent of our business, it is doing well. Expect opening up of international routes in next six months," Fernandes said.
He reiterated that there needs to be greater focus on COVID-19 tests and quick results of tests are going to be a game-changer for airlines.