By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, January 4: Indo–Malaysian low cost carrier AirAsia India plans to start its operations in the Northeast later this year. The airline also has future plans to fly to South East Asian countries, especially Thailand, from North–East.
A senior official of the company said AirAsia India was looking to expand to untapped regions, including Northeast. “We are looking at untapped regions and North–Eastern region is one of them,” he said.
However, the airline has called for “collaborations” from the Central as well as the State government of the region and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in its plan to connect all smaller airports of the region.
Sources said the airline wants easing of norms and licensing policies for the region to make services commercially viable on smaller routes.
“We have long term perspective in mind. We would like to put smallest possible aircraft for small routes but we have to look for collaborations and need the government’s and AAI’s support to have a sustaible growth plan,” the official said. The company, since its launch, has been focusing on connecting Tier II cities to start services.
According to the official, the region has the potential to become the hub for connecting to South East Asian countries. “Once we complete five years of domestic operation and are eligible for flying on intertiol routes, we would surely think of flying to South East Asian countries, especially Thailand, from here,” added the official.
AirAsia India, which launched its service in June last year, is a joint venture between AirAsia Berhad, Tata Sons and Telestra Tradeplace. Indigo, Go Air, Spicejet are the low cost carriers flying to the North–Eastern states presently.
As per government guidelines, all scheduled operators are required to deploy in the North–Eastern region, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep (Category–II routes) at least 10 per cent of their deployed capacity on trunk routes (Category–I routes).
There are 11 operatiol airports in North–East, although the number was 17 in the ‘70s. Barring Aruchal Pradesh and Sikkim, all other North–Eastern states – Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, galand and Tripura, have operatiol airports. A greenfield airport is under construction in Sikkim and one each in Aruchal Pradesh and galand are proposed.
The operatiol airports altogether handle on average 48 lakh passengers and 25,000 tonnes of freight every year. Guwahati airport is the busiest airport in the region, followed by Agartala airport and Imphal airport.
An AirAsia flight QZ8501 with 162 people aboard en route from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore had crashed into the Java sea last Sunday.