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Potential for air travel enormous in India: Ratan Tata

Bangalore: The potential for air travel in India is enormous, as the base of the pyramid has not been tapped to the extent it should have been, Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata said on Thursday.

"I am convinced that there is growing preference for air travel in India for connectivity, leisure, business and as an essential service," Tata told reporters at the official launch of AirAsia India, the new budget carrier in which Tata Sons has 30 percent equity stake.

Ratan TataRatan Tata said he was happy that the Indo-Malaysian joint venture was able to finally take off in June and make it affordable for every Indian to fly. File Pic

Terming the launch of the low-cost carrier a dream come true, as the Tata group always wanted to be in the aviation business, Tata said he was happy that the Indo-Malaysian joint venture was able to finally take off in June and make it affordable for every Indian to fly.

The airline commenced operations June 12 with first service on the Bangalore-Goa route and started second service June 19 on Bangalore-Chennai route with a brand new A-320 of Airbus."Our airline is going to be a game changer in the industry, as we want to fly more and more people at an affordable cost. There is an enormous scope for air travel across the country due to growing population, incomes and aspirations," Tata asserted.

In the $30-million budget carrier, AirAsiaBerhad of Malaysia has majority equity stake (49 percent) while Telstra Tradeplace holds the remaining 21 percent equity share.The airline's introductory fare has triggered a price war among budget carriers, with its competitors like IndiGo and SpiceJet coming out with promotional and discounted fares on many routes they operate.

AirAsia India is set to launch its third service on Bangalore-Kochi route from July 20.The airline is in the process of inducting nine more A-320 aircraft to launch services on more destinations, especially on feeder routes, connection metros with non-metros, cities and towns across the country.

Tata Sons is also foraying into full service carrier through a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, in which it has majority equity stake (51 percent).The joint venture is waiting for the air operator's permit from the state-run Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to launch full-fledged air services across the country in September and overseas subsequently.

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