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PMO raises query over AirAsia India’s international rights

The PMO raised the query along with a letter from MP Subramaniam Swamy, urging the government to not let AirAsia India fly overseas due to the court case.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 27, 2019, 07.22 AM IST
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An AirAsia India executive said that any decision to further delay its foreign flying rights would be unfair.
NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the aviation ministry to explain why AirAsia India would be allowed to fly international when its approvals are being contested in a court after a BJP MP wrote to the top office.

The PMO raised the query along with a letter from MP Subramaniam Swamy, urging the government to not let AirAsia India fly overseas due to the court case, and sought replies from the aviation ministry.

Swamy had moved the Delhi High Court, challenging the airline’s appeal for international flying rights, saying it was in violation of the foreign direct investment norms. He, however, refused to comment on the matter now. “We have received three reminders from the PMO on replies to the letter by the MP. We are in the process of replying to the letter with a detailed response over the issue,” said an aviation ministry official, refusing to be identified.

“A GoM (group of ministers) was formed to clear the proposal for both Vistara and AirAsia India to fly international. While Vistara has got its clearance and started flying international, AirAsia India’s proposal is in the final stages, as it is eligible to fly international not just on the basis of new norms, but on earlier eligibility norms, too,” another aviation ministry official said, requesting anonymity.

The earlier norms to be eligible to fly abroad required Indian carriers to have a fleet of 20 aircraft and five years of domestic flying experience. This was eased to zero domestic flying experience and 20 aircraft in the fleet, known as 0/20 rule, in the middle of 2016. AirAsia India, which has a fleet of over 20 aircraft and completed over five years flying locally, is eligible to fly international based on the 0/20 rule. AirAsia India started operations in June 2014, while Vistara took off in January 2015.

An AirAsia India executive said that any decision to further delay its foreign flying rights would be unfair.

“We had applied for approvals to fly international only after fulfilling all the criteria set by the government. Due to the delay in approvals, we could not get any foreign flying rights from those vacated by Jet Airways. Any further delay would only make it more difficult for us to launch flights and improve India’s international connectivity,” said a senior AirAsia India executive, who did not want to be quoted.

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