Hyderabad: Amid concerns in certain quarters over the control of no-frills airline AirAsia India,
Malaysia-based AirAsia Group's chief Tony Fernandes on Wednesday said he has applied for Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status.
AirAsia India is a three-way venture between AirAsia, Tatas and Arun Bhatia's Telestra Tradeplace with 49 percent
owned by the Malaysian group.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of India Aviation 2016 event in Hyderabad, Fernandes said he has applied for OCI status.
"I have already applied. I applied last week... then I will be the same as everyone else... I will be the same as
Naresh Goyal (Jet Airways Chairman)," he said.
"There will be a big party when I get my approval," he said.
In an apparent swipe at established competitors raising concerns over foreign ownership at AirAsia India, Fernandes
said the whole thing looks "bizarre" to him.
"Naresh Goyal lives in London as an NRI. SpiceJet used to be owned by an American. IndiGo has tonnes of American
shareholders. In fact, you can look at the shareholding, there is more foreign shareholding than local shareholding," Fernandes noted.
Among others, those who are a citizen of another country, but were a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after, the commencement of the constitution, are eligible to have OCI status.
According to him, what needs to be looked at is creation of jobs and investments brought in rather than ownership.
"What is important (to look at) is it creating jobs in India, is it creating investments, increasing tourism in India as opposed to where I am from...," he said.
The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), the grouping of of four established domestic carriers -- Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir -- have raised concerns about control and ownership at AirAsia India.
Fernandes, who is the group CEO of AirAsia Berhard, said that the India unit made money in December.
"In December 2015, we made money (profit). We are looking good for 2016," he said and stressed there would be no top level change at AirAsia India.
Amid reports that AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya might be quitting, Fernandes only said that his (Chandilya)
"contract will be up soon".
"Now, we are looking at how to grow market size. I am very bullish about Indian economy and aviation irrespective of 5/20 (norm)," he noted.
A startup carrier, AirAsia India is looking for removal of the 5/20 rule, under which only those airlines having at
least five years of operational experience and minimum of 20 planes can fly overseas.