According to news reports, AirAsia may avoid flying on the Mumbai-Delhi route and focus on smaller cities and the southern metros in a unique strategy to keep costs low and capture a larger slice of the fast-growing flying population in the rest of the country.
The Tony Fernandes-run budget carrier, which rattled the aviation ministry and some of the country’s established carriers by announcing an airline venture with the Tata Group last month, will focus on Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and northern cities like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, top airline officials have said.
The move is in sync with AirAsia’s disruptive strategy and its desire to grab a bigger market share of passenger traffic outside the two big cities. A section of the travel fraternity still thinks that AirAsia would be able to offer competitive fares not only by adopting certain practices unique to them and but also those not yet tried in India.
In a conference call with reporters on February 21, Tony Fernandes said the airline will avoid Delhi and Mumbai. “We will avoid certain airports like Delhi and Mumbai because of high charges and also because these airports are slot constrained. We will stimulate the market first with low-cost structure and later as the airports are being developed, we would also look at these newer markets. India is a huge country and we are confident that we will succeed,” Fernandes had said.
It is not yet clear whether AirAsia will completely avoid these two cities, as in not ferry passengers from other destinations to the two top metros. Nair said the routes have not been finalised and can’t yet make a comment. While AirAsia is entering the domestic market for the first time, it has been flying between several Indian cities and south-east Asian countries.