GR Gopinath of Air Deccan fame is to observe the fate of the AirAsia-Tata Sons joint venture airline startup before launching his own budget air carrier. For now, Gopinath has decided to keep his application for launching the budget airline on hold. After getting Foreign Investment Promotion Board nod, AirAsia on April 23 filed a formal application with the Union Aviation Ministry to seek clearance for starting the Indian subsidiary.
The airline plans to start operations with three to four planes and take the number to 37 in next five years. Sources said that the Aviation Ministry feels that last September when the government relaxed foreign direct investment in the sector, it allowed foreign airlines to invest in local ones. So the government will have to clarify that even start-ups are allowed under the relaxed FDI norms.
Now, Gopinath is waiting to see the fate of the AirAsia joint venture that is backed by the Tatas with former group chairman Ratan Tata taking personal interest in the project because of his passion for aviation. If the aviation ministry stalls or even delays such a formidable combination, then what chance does Gopinath have? So he has decided to wait and watch, said the sources.