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AirAsia to buy 50 new jets ahead of India launch

AirAsia is planning to buy 50 new aircraft ahead of the launch of its new budget carrier in India.

Chief executive Tony Fernandes made the announcement to Reuters just weeks before the Paris Air Show where the carrier is expected to place the potential $5 billion order for the Airbus A320 short-haul aircraft.

AirAsia is launching the new airline in partnership with the Tata Group to cash in on rising demand for domestic air travel in the sub-continent. 

The Malaysian company, Asia's largest budget carrier, has been on a buying spree of late, with orders totalling nearly 500 aircraft.

AirAsia plans to launch an airline in India in partnership with the Tata Group to cash in on rising demand for domestic air travel among India’s expanding middle class. It would start with planes already on order but potentially trigger new orders.

“We’re looking at putting in almost a plane every month. We decided that sometimes when we pussyfoot around it takes too long to catch up so we decided just to go for it,” Fernandes told Reuters in an interview.

“We’ve bought a lot of planes but we’re still short, we’re still leasing planes at the moment, so I was right buying these planes, and we may have to put in another order…(for) 50 or something like that,” Fernandes said.

He added, the affiliate, AirAsia India, was recruiting to be ready to launch in the fourth quarter, subject to final regulatory clearances.

Fernandes said the sector’s boom and bust cycle, which prompted India to open up the sector to foreign airline investors, had given way to a healthier business climate.

“I said that I will come into India when all these guys have paved the way and made their mistakes.”

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