The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would reportedly probe the role of two former UPA 2 ministers over violation of norms by AirAsia to get the international flying licence. It also has been alleged that the company violated norms relating to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). AirAsia began operations in 2014 in India with Tatas holding 51 per cent stake in the company.

There are allegations that Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, and other senior leaders manipulated government policies through corrupt means for relaxing the 5/20 rule. Under the 5/20 rule a company needs to have at least five years experience and 20 planes to be eligible for the international licence.

At present, the airline only needs to have 20 aircraft to start international flights paving the way for new players such as AirAsia India to start overseas operations.

A senior aviation industry analyst told PTI that the CBI case is definitely a set back for AirAsia India and would have an impact on its proposed international operations also. At present Air Asia has 18 aircraft.

The CBI has also named AirAsia India director R Venkataramanan and AirAsia Berhad’s former deputy CEO Tharumalingam Kanagalingam as accused in the case.

“The case has been registered under 120-B (criminal conspiracy) under the IPC and sections 13(2) read with 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The searches took place at five locations in Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru,” CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said.

In an official statement, Air Asia India refutes any wrong-doing. “In November, 2016 AirAsia India Ltd had initiated criminal charges against its ex-CEO and had also commenced civil proceedings in Bengaluru for such irregularities. We hope to bring early resolution to all such issues,” Air Asia India Director Shuva Mandal said.

Director of Singapore-based SNR Trading Rejendra Dubey, Sunil Kapoor, travel food owner and Deepak Talwar, aviation consultant, have also been included in the FIR.

With Inputs From PTI