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AirAsia gets clearance-Partner slams Tata

New Delhi, Sep 21 () : AirAsia-Tata-Telestra JV to start domestic operations got the clearance from the Civil Aviation ministry but one of its partners have slammed Tata.

Key promoter Tony Fernandes has kept mum. Arun Bhatia who holds a 21% stake in AirAsia India operations has told a business TV channel that Tata’s joint venture with SIA was unethical and that he was kept in the dark. He would take up the matter in the board meeting scheduled for September 28.

Tata maintains that the JV agreement does not say that the partners should not enter into deal with any aviation company and it is an internal matter. Tata had yesterday maintained that Tony was in the know.

Bhatia has made it clear that he would not quit and instead buy Tata shares if they were willing to sell. Bhatia had brokered the deal between Tony and Ratan Tata. Tata then took Tony to Ajit Singh, the civil aviation minister.

Yesterday, when the minister signed the AirAsia file, Prasad Menon, the head of Tata-SIA walked in to announce the new $100 million venture. AirAsia has Scoot and Singapore Airlines Tiger Air for flying at low fares.

Most of the times, the fares of low-cost airlines, which are subsidiary of full fare service do not show much difference. 70% of the passenger traffic are in the low fare service. Tata says that the SIA venture is for premium passengers and AirAsia is for another segment.

AirAsia’s plan is to get train passengers and those travelling in luxury buses to take the air route. With both ends handled by a common entity the Tata, the cannibalization of air traffic which is said to grow three-fold in coming years is to be a big bonanza.

Tata says its nominees are not the same in both airlines boards and as a policy, it sees that interests of parties in which they invest are protected.