IndiGo, Indian Carriers Oppose AirAsia’s Local Discount Venture

IndiGo, India’s biggest airline, joined an industry group in opposing AirAsia Bhd.’s application for local operations, threatening to delay plans of the region’s largest discount carrier to start flights by March.

IndiGo has written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, supporting some of the objections raised by the Federation of Indian Airlines against AirAsia, the Indian airline said in a statement, without giving details.

The letter was in response to a request for public feedback sought by the aviation regulator on AirAsia’s application. AirAsia had wanted to start services by the end of last year, in a move that would have increased competition for low-cost carriers, including IndiGo and SpiceJet Ltd., that control about 60 percent of the domestic market.

A spokeswoman for AirAsia India didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment yesterday.

AirAsia, which has tied up with India’s Tata Group for the local venture, expects India’s approvals are imminent and flights are slated for as soon as March, Chief Executive Officer Tony Fernandes said in an interview in London on Jan. 17. AirAsia will give away a few seats for free when it starts flying, Fernandes said last year. The CEO has said ticket prices will be the “No. 1 differentiator” in India.

AirAsia India will be based in the southern city of Chennai, and the budget carrier will fly Airbus Group NV A320 aircraft mainly to smaller cities. Fernandes has said he is aiming to attract passengers from the about 1 million people who take trains every day in the country.

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