More seats than is humanely possible in an Air Asia A320: Commons photo

Air Asia has scored another goal in the very, very long game of gaining access to the one billion population sized market for inexpensive air travel in India by getting an operating certificate for a franchise to be based in Chennai.

This breakthrough does two things. It underscores the importance of partnering with the massive, successful and influential India industrial conglomerate the Tata Group.

It also raises the stakes for the two other foreign airline seeking to participate directly in the India market, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways.

Singapore Airlines is also partnering an India airline venture with Tata, a fascinating situation, since low far franchises like Air Asia are the natural enemy of full service carriers like SilkAir,  Singapore Airline’s single aisle subsidiary based in Singapore, which inevitably overlap in their competitive offerings to regional or shorter range air travellers.

Etihad Airways last year became in investor in India’s Jet Airways. Everyone, including Etihad’s owners, are keenly awaiting the promised success of this investment, given the historic difficulties non-India airlines have experienced in breaking into its domestic and international air travel markets.

This report in Bloomberg is one of the first to break the news of  Air Asia winning its operating permit.

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