AirAsia Hires New Commercial Director Ahead Of India Launch

Airline is expected to start operations in October.


Feb. 19--NEW DELHI -- In a surprise move, AirAsia India Pvt. Ltd has hired a new commercial affairs director.

Gaurav Rathore has already taken up the role at AirAsia in Chennai, said two officials at the airline familiar with the development on condition of anonymity. He is a former assistant vice-president (quality, guest commitment, contact centres), at Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. He was until recently vice- president (operations and service excellence) at Yatra Online Pvt. Ltd.

Amisha Sethi, who was appointed chief commercial officer at AirAsia India last year, is likely to move on soon, the two top officials at the airline said on condition of anonymity. Sethi was among the top three officials the proposed low-cost airline had hired last year. The others were chief executive officer Mittu Chandilya and chief financial officer Vijay Gopalan.

Sethi, an executive scholar in marketing and sales management from Kellogg School of Management, has worked with smartphone maker BlackBerry and Bharti Airtel Ltd before joining AirAsia India. She declined comment on the matter.

"Everything is normal in AirAsia. There is absolutely no change," an AirAsia India spokeswoman said.

Malaysia-based AirAsia Bhd was granted permission by the foreign investment promotion board in April 2013 to invest Rs.80.98 crore in a domestic passenger airline. AirAsia holds a 49% stake in the Indian venture. Tata Sons Ltd owns 30%, and Arun Bhatia of Telestra Tradeplace Pvt. Ltd the remainder.

DGCA has for the first time invoked a clause seeking objections, if any, from the public to giving the airline an operating licence. Feedback on the DGCA's notice has been submitted by 13 February and the regulator's decision is expected within this month.

The airline was originally scheduled to start operations in September last year. According to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation or Capa, the airline is expected to start operation by October this year.

Copyright 2014 - Mint, New Delhi

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