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AirAsia India to debut on June 12

Asia's largest budget carrier AirAsia will start flying in India from June 12 with a new no-frills airline, its group chief executive said on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: Asia's largest budget carrier AirAsia will start flying in India from June 12 with a new no-frills airline, its group chief executive said on Thursday.

Malaysia-based AirAsia won approval from India's regulators in March last year to set up the airline in a joint venture with the giant Tata group and entrepreneur Arun Bhatia's Telstra Tradeplace.

"Very very proud to announce AirAsia India open for sale tomorrow. Wow. First flight June 12th," AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said in a tweet.

The low-cost joint venture won an operating permit earlier this month, clearing the final regulatory hurdle and paving the way for more intense competition in an industry in which many of the existing airlines are bleeding money.

The new venture is the first by a foreign airline since India relaxed foreign investment rules in 2012 allowing overseas carriers to take up to a 49-per cent stake in domestic firms.

AirAsia owns 49 per cent, the Tata group 30 per cent and Telstra the balance of 21 per cent.

The budget carrier, which has promised to offer some of the cheapest airfares, will begin ticket sales on Friday.

Low-cost carriers already dominate Indian skies with a near 65 per cent market share, but their fortunes have faded due to aggressive fare rivalry, a slowing economy, high fuel prices and airport charges.

Fernandes, a former record industry executive, took over insolvent AirAsia in 2001 and turned it into one of the aviation sector's biggest success stories.

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