Talk about trying to run before you can walk – or in this case, fly.
AirAsia is on the hunt for some tall, outgoing – and in the case of female applicants, fully made-up – air stewards to be “walking advertisements” for the brand in India. The company is beginning recruitment on April 13. Any snag? The airline is yet to get an aviation licence in the country.
Though AirAsia’s flamboyant chief executive, Tony Fernandes, seemed to have taken it for granted, it’s a groundbreaking decision for the industry.
The joint venture between AirAsia, the Malaysia-based budget airline, and Indian conglomerate, Tata Sons, has been approved by India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board.
When New Delhi decided last September to permit foreign airlines to own up to 49 per cent of domestic Indian carriers, the aim was to encourage an infusion of foreign capital to help its heavily-indebted incumbent airlines strengthen their weak balance sheets – and expand their services.
But instead of a foreign lifeline, India’s air carriers are now confronting the prospect of intensified competition, after AirAsia, the Malaysian low-cost carrier, announced plans to set up a brand-new, start-up Indian carrier, with financial backing from India’s Tata Group.
Source: Tata Sons
JRD Tata (pictured) is known as the man who ran India’s largest conglomerate for 53 years. He was also the first person to qualify as a pilot in India and launched the country’s first carrier in 1932 – Tata Airlines – which was later nationalised.
Now, Tata Sons is going back to aviation.
“Malaysian beauty in search of an Indian partner to start a family with.”
“Impoverished Indian gentleman with a battered reputation in search of a companion to set him back on track. Fair complexion, good family.”
India’s aviation industry is awash with lonely hearts in search of a partner. Tony Fernandes, chief executive of Malaysia-based AirAsia, and Vijay Mallya, chairman of India’s Kingfisher Airlines, may be a good match in terms of their flamboyant personalities – but that’s where the likeness ends.
Shares in Jet Airways and SpiceJet soared on Monday by nearly a fifth after an Indian government official confirmed the worst-kept secret in Mumbai – the two carriers are in talks with potential foreign investors.
Jet is discussing selling a stake to Etihad Airways and SpiceJet is having similar discussions with Malaysia’s AirAsia, said the official. These are the first deal plans to be made public since New Delhi liberalised investment by foreign carriers in September.
At the launch of an Indonesian-Malaysian airline in Kuala Lumpur earlier this week, Najib Razak, the Malaysian prime minister, suggested the venture heralded a new era of co-operation between two neighbours more used to bickering.
But while a politician with an election to fight soon might put it like that, the market has taken a different view of the establishment of Malindo Airways, a joint venture between ambitious Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air and Malaysia’s National Aerospace & Defence Industries.