Chennai: With leaking roofs and poor infrastructure in Chennai airport, the newest entrant to the domestic market in the country, AirAsia India has strongly hinted that it might move its headquarters from the city to either Bengaluru or even Goa. Even SpiceJet, which has a Chennai-based owner, has its headquarters in Delhi and its hub in Hyderabad. Former AAI member (operations) and architect specialized in airport design Robey Lal said that it would be a big loss to Chennai, if AirAsia India shifts its HQ to another airport.
Air passengers too were disappointed with AirAsia’s proposed move to shift to Bengaluru, as it would rob them of an opportunity to have more frequency of flights from Chennai. “It will be bad for Chennai, as we will again miss being an headquarters for a airline,” said Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI) secretary Hiren Shah. It may be noted that the city was HQ of now defunctant NEPC Airlines and Paramount. APAI president D. Sudhakara Reddy said that the airline’s move to Bengaluru would be a loss to Chennai. “Due to improper maintenance of airport and lack of initiative to go and grab new business, we are losing out to a private airport,” he added.
AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya told DC that the airline might vacate the office space that it had been occupying at the Chennai airport premises for the last six months. “The lease agreement is valid for another six months, but if we want, we can vacate even tomorrow using the penalty clause,” he added. With the very little space that the airline has been occupying till now, there are real chances of it exiting sooner than later. “We have been paying for the facility that is not up to the mark. Right form AC duct to toilet, everything needs to be improved. This expense is getting to a point that is not valuable to us,” Chandilya explained.
AAI chairman Alok Sinha said that the authority would facilitate the airline for setting up the headquarters in Chennai. “It was only a few days back that the AirAsia India CEO checked with me. He has not come back to me,” he added. When contacted, Chennai airport director H. S. Suresh said that he had nothing to comment on the issue.