AirAsia India (Bengaluru International) is seeking to speed up its merger with Air India Express (IX, Delhi International), and has sought approval from India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to close the merger around three months earlier than the previously flagged March 2024 date, according to the Mint outlet.

With staff integration and reassignments into new roles well underway, the report, citing three people close to the matter, says AirAsia India is now concentrating on folding its operations into Air India Express, focusing on integrating flight networks.

AirAsia India's five A320-200Ns and twenty-five A320-200s are being repainted with Air India Express's livery. This is occurring at a rate of three to four aircraft per month, with the repainting expected to be completed by the end of 2023. The integration of both airlines' reservation systems and customer interfaces has already occurred. AirAsia India has also initiated the process of changing its IATA flight code from 'I5' to 'IX'. The merged entity will be rebranded as AIX Connect, with the expectation that the combined Air India Express and AirAsia India fleets and network will more effectively compete against India's low-cost powerhouse carrier, IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi International).

The merger is also part of a broader consolidation of airlines owned by the Tata Sons conglomerate. In addition to merging its two low-cost carriers, Tata is also merging Air India (AI, Delhi International) and Vistara (UK, Delhi International), with the latter brand disappearing.

Meanwhile, ch-aviation research reveals that Air India will start placing its flight codes on AirAsia India flights on four domestic routes from August 1. According to ch-aviation schedules data, AirAsia India will operate three daily roundtrip flights between Bengaluru International and Bhubaneshwar as Air India codeshares, with Air India aircraft not servicing the route. On the three other routes - Mumbai International - Goa Dabolim; Delhi International - Lucknow; and Delhi International and Pune, AirAsia India aircraft will operate several scheduled roundtrips a day as Air India codeshares. However, the full-service carrier will also maintain some of its own flights on these routes.