AirAsia struggles with challenges


Last Wednesday, two days before ET broke the story of deepening fissures between the three shareholders of AirAsia India, co-founder Arun Bhatia spoke by phone with the airline’s CEO and MD Mittu Chandilya.

“Are you a monkey who does whatever Tony tells you to do?” an angry Bhatia, a junior partner in the venture, asked Chandilya. Tony Fernandes is the group CEO of Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd, the largest shareholder in AirAsia India.

“That’s unfair,” 36-year-old Chandilya retorted. “I too have raised the same issues several times in the past.”

Chandilya, a former headhunter whom Fernandes directly hired, was in Kuala Lumpur to attend the airline’s board meet. He had just presented a five-year plan that calls for more money from the shareholders. The heated exchange illustrates that the deteriorating relationship between the three shareholders have come to a head.


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