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"I Believe in Free Markets and Open Skies"



(p. B1) DELHI -- When the fast-growing Malaysian carrier AirAsia wanted to expand, India looked like the ideal frontier.


. . .


Then, AirAsia discovered the difficulties of doing business in India.

While it benefited from a recent loosening of restrictions on foreign investment in airlines, AirAsia India has contended with a web of red tape and regulations for new entrants that have added significant cost and complexity to its operations.


. . .


(p. B7) . . . Mr. Chandilya acknowledges that he misjudged India's regulatory environment, which is uniquely stringent for airlines.

Taxes on aviation turbines are higher than almost anywhere else in the world. Every airline, even those with just a few planes, is also required to fly regularly to remote regions, where flights often run half full. And new entrants like AirAsia India are prohibited from flying lucrative international routes until they are five years old and have at least 20 aircraft, the so-called 5/20 rule.

"I believe in free markets and open skies, but if you look at the policies we have in place, I don't think we have that at all," Mr. Chandilya said.


. . .


Each Indian state controls its own taxes on aviation turbine fuel, and in many places it is kept as high as 30 percent. More than half of AirAsia India's operating costs are fuel-related.

High taxes also extend to maintenance and Indian airlines often choose to take their aircraft to nearby countries for that work. AirAsia India plans to send its planes to Malaysia or Singapore for servicing once they've been operational for two years.

"I talk to ministers and policy makers about how they can help the industry and promote growth, but it is very difficult to get them to understand that reducing these taxes will probably boost their states' economies," Mr. Chandilya said.



For the full story, see:

MAX BEARAK. "India's Restricted Airspace." The New York Times (Tues., JUNE 23, 2015): B1 & B7.

(Note: eilipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date JUNE 22, 2015, and has the title "AirAsia Faces Red Tape and Tough Competition in India.")






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