Saturday, February 23, 2013

Opinion-AirAsia- Airline proposes, Bureaucracy disposes?

Neelam Mathews
Feb 23, 2013
India's first budget airline Air Deccan made its first flight in Aug 2003. It was no cake-walk for founder G.R Gopinath, who showed a similar grit asTony Fernandes- who already two years into the business, had started shaking up everything that was previously sacrosanct. 
Today, AirAsia is making making an entry into India and dare I say, we'll have our hats truly off to Fernandes if he manages to shake our moth-ridden system with fresh concepts. 
Take the airports for instance. Many years ago, in an interview during Formula One in Bahrain with me, Tony called airports in India, "vultures." They still remain that and AirAsia is rather sagely keeping away from Mumbai and Delhi for the moment. Tony said during a press concall he hopes to convince them to relook at costs. At AerospaceDiary, we have our bubbly ready to cork if that happens!

Tony also hopes that the five-year minima for Indian carriers to fly abroad could be waived. While power is positively a strength to have in our system, one suspects noises may come from present players who have waited for this rather archaic rule before they were allowed to do so.
There is fire in the belly yet and that gives hope to the future of Indian aviation.
When I asked Gopi if he would withdraw his decision to launch a carrier now that AirAsia is entering the fray, I was met with a vehement: "No way! You have to be ready for competition. Suppose I had started first, AirAsia could have launched after me ! With that philosophy you can never start a business ! I know India better than him. He should be diffident not me.. But he's a friend and an entrepreneur I admire."

As a journalist starved of positive news for the past few grim years, tired of knocking at plunging airlines' doors for morsels of news, I look forward to some great years ahead for our industry we all have a passion for.

Good luck everybody- and let those news breaks keep flowing!

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