Big bull Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed Akasa Air, that will shortly take to the skies will not be an ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC). It is looking at a launch by early June and will have a fleet of 20 aircraft by next summer, when it will “immediately” apply for rights to fly abroad on meeting the 0/20 rule (no age bar but having a minimum fleet of 20 planes) and start flying overseas to places like Gulf and Saarc countries and Southeast Asia as soon as it gets the permission to do so.
While not giving funding details, the man behind Akasa Air - founder, MD & CEO Vinay Dube - said the airline is “well capitalised” and also has “great quality investors, including Jhunjhunwala”. “We are going to get our first Boeing 737 Max in the second half of April and our first commercial flight should be in May-end or early June. By the end of March 2023, Akasa should have18 aircraft. After that, over the next four years, we will induct 12-14 Max annually, taking our fleet to (the ordered) 72,” said Dube, an aviation veteran, who has held top positions with Jet Airways, GoAir and many big foreign airlines. Recruitment of personnel like pilots, cabin crew and airport staffers has begun.
The airline has former IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh as co-founder. Airlines in India don’t make money due to a prohibitively expensive operating cost environment, thanks mainly to very costly jet fuel prices because of high base prices and even steeper taxes. Dube does not believe Indian airlines will keep bleeding endlessly. “(Most) airlines in India may have a certain record. I spent a decade with Delta in the US and they made billions of dollars in profit for 10 years in a row (till Covid struck). There is no reason why a sector, that is extremely important for India, for consumers, should remain perennially unhealthy… everyone can make money in a very reasonable and rationale manner. That’s why we have decided to start the airline. ”