AirAsia India Receives Green Light to Operate as Air India Expres
AirAsia India has received approval from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to operate flights under the brand name “Air India Express,” as per a statement by the company. The move comes as part of the integration process between the two airlines, with AirAsia India rebranding itself to Air India Express.With the regulatory green light, Air India Express and AIX Connect flights can now be marketed, distributed, and operated under the common brand name, leading to the proposed legal merger of the two airlines.
This strategic decision aims to harmonize customer touchpoints, products, and services for both carriers, streamlining their operations and unlocking valuable synergies.To expedite the process, AirAsia India plans to update the livery of 3-4 aircraft each month, completing the full fleet transition from AirAsia India to Air India Express by November-December.
Additionally, the airline will change its International Air Transport Association (IATA) flight code from ‘I5’ to ‘IX,’ the code associated with Air India Express, a process scheduled for completion by January.The Tata Group, which has gradually increased its stake in AirAsia India to 83.67%, has already integrated the reservation system and customer interface of both airlines in March, bringing them closer to forming a single low-cost platform.Moreover, Air India Express recently introduced AirAsia’s ‘Gourmair’ in-flight dining menu, offering a wide range of hot meals, snacks, and desserts.
The airline also extended the ‘Xpress Ahead’ priority services to guests of both carriers, providing priority check-in services for boarding and baggage.The integrated Air India Express, being the fourth-largest domestic airline with an 8% share, is expected to boost operational efficiencies, save costs, and improve revenue performance for the Tata Group. This early transition is expected to be particularly beneficial in the peak demand quarter of Oct-Dec.
Furthermore, the Tata Group is awaiting approvals for the merger of Vistara with Air India, which is likely to begin before March 2024. The group’s strategy involves positioning Air India as a full-service carrier for metro-to-metro and high-connectivity routes, while the consolidated Air India Express will focus on leisure-oriented or price-sensitive markets.