Tier-II cities to be linked to Asia


Chennai: Tony Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia is a smart man. His smartness was more evident in the way he converted a hostile press that was upset with his delayed arrival by over an hour into a happy one by the end of the meeting, even without serving any snacks.
And a similar strategy is what he has in mind to tackle the Indian low-cost aviation sector that saw several budget airlines going bust. Managing cost and people is the key to the success of any venture, he says. 
"We will offer discretionary pricing for every extra bag one carries, seat he chooses or food he wants and that will take care of the cheap pricing of the ticket," he claims. 
The man with over 9,000 employees claims to have managed his people without any union by keeping it open. "We saw closed cabins brewing groups between pilots, engineers, cabin crews etc. So we broke them down to have an single open office with the liberty to walk into my cabin at their will," he says.
The man, who switched career from music record sales to aviation, believes in doing things differently - be it choosing an Indian CEO from a non-aviation background or from desisting to fly to top traffic destinations in India such as Mumbai or Delhi. 
"We will fly only to small towns and yet we are confident of breaking even in a year's time," says a confident Tony, who recalls the instance of a funeral that led to starting Kuala Lumpur-Tiruchy flight.
Air Asia's Indian venture, set to go live from Chennai by the end of this year, plans to fly short-haul flights to all tier-II cities across Tamil Nadu and others, initially starting with three flights from Chennai.
On his tie-up with the Tatas, Tony recalls that it was a picture of JRD Tata that he saw at an Airport Authorities of India office that led him to call up Ratan Tata to partner his India venture. "Tata's low-cost strategies as Nano is much in line with our philosophy," he adds. And no wonder, there was not even a notepad for journalists at his press conference!

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