AirAsia Group CEO under CBI scanner

New Delhi: The CBI has registered a case against AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes, a Malaysian billionaire, for allegedly trying to circumvent rules to get an international flying license for AirAsia India, the probe agency said on Tuesday.

Searches were being held in multiple locations in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru in connection with the case, according to CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur.

“A case has been registered against Fernandes and some other unidentified persons linked to the firm (AirAsia India),” Gaur said.

Gaur said Fernandes had lobbied and was trying to violate rule 5/20 that requires an airline to have a minimum of five years of flying and 20 aircraft to apply for international licenses.

Interestingly, in 2016, the 5/20 norm was amended. Currently, a domestic airline requires 20 aircraft to apply for international flight rights.

BJP’s Rajya Sabha member and former Union Minister Subramanian Swamy tweeted: “Finally the CBI is presently raiding Air Asia offices including of the CEO’s. It is arising from my PIL in Delhi HC.”

Presently, the Delhi High Court is hearing a case filed by Swamy against the grant of a flying license of AirAsia India.

The firm — AirAsia (India) — is a joint venture between Tata Sons and AirAsia Berhad, with AirAsia Investment.

The budget carrier commenced operations on June 12, 2014 and currently flies to 20 destinations across India with a fleet of 18 A320 aircraft.