India's law enforcement and economic intelligence agency, the Enforcement Directorate, has summoned AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes to appear on January 20 as part of an investigation into the group for allegedly lobbying India's government to secure overseas flight permits, the country's media reported.

The agency is also probing the possibility that AirAsia violated laws that prevent non-Indian airlines from controlling local carriers, as well as funding irregularities and criminal misconduct when it was seeking to obtain a licence to launch services in India.

AirAsia India (I5, Chennai), which was founded in March 2013 and launched operations in June 2014, is 51% owned by India's Tata Group with AirAsia holding the remaining 49%. It currently operates a fleet of twenty-nine A320-200s connecting 21 cities across the country with 55 routes, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced and ch-aviation capacities modules.

The Enforcement Directorate has also issued summons to other senior officials at the airline under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). This is in connection to an alleged payoff of USD1 million that came to light during the questioning of former AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya, according to the Times of India.

Those being summoned along with Fernandes include AirAsia Group President Tharumalingam Kanagalingam, better known as Bo Lingam; businessman Arun Bhatia, who held substantial equity in AirAsia India until 2016; AirAsia India chairman Subramanian Ramadorai; and former chief executives Mittu Chandiliya and Naresh Algan, the Indian magazine Business Today reported.

The Indian financial daily Mint viewed a copy of the First Information Report, which also names former AirAsia India director Ramachandran Venkataramanan; Rajendra Dubey, director of Singapore-based HNR Trading; Sunil Kapur, owner of the travel retail firm Travel Food Services; and various government officials.

The Enforcement Directorate and India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reportedly began separate probes into the matter in the first half of 2018, in the CBI’s case over violations that allegedly occurred from 2013 to 2016.

AirAsia India and AirAsia Group were not immediately available for comment.