The airline venture promoted by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Akasa Air, has received the no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and now aims to commence flight operations by the end of 2021, CNBC-TV18 learnt on August 4.
The upcoming airline has been in the works since the end of 2020 and former Chief Executive Officer of Jet Airways and GoAir, Vinay Dube, is expected to play a key role in the airline. CNBC-TV18 had exclusively reported in March 2021 that Dube plans to start a domestic airline in 2021 with five aircraft initially.
Akasa Air is expected to be based out of Bengaluru and it plans to have a route network close to the city such as Bengaluru-Mumbai, Bengaluru-Chennai, Bengaluru-Hyderabad among others, sources said.
While the airline has been in talks with aircraft manufacturers to build a fleet for itself, so far, it seems that Akasa Air is likely to opt for a Boeing fleet of narrow-body aircraft and it may even get some MAX aircraft on lease, sources aware of the matter said.
“Lower lease rentals due to COVID-19 and a weaker salary structure are likely to lead to lower expenses and thereby, work in favour of a new airline such as Akasa Air. However, the uncertain demand environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic could be a risk factor,” a source said.
For now, the airline is in the process of aircraft acquisition and once that is complete in addition to other procedures, it will receive its air operator permit, officials said.
These are interesting times for the civil aviation sector as new players like Akasa Air and old ones such as Jet Airways are knocking on its door.
Mumbai-born Jhunjhunwala, who belongs to the Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan, is a chartered accountant. He manages his own portfolio as a partner in his asset management firm Rare Enterprises and is often referred to as India's own Warren Buffett.
The Big Bull of Dalal street is known to be an investor with a Midas touch and thereby, his sudden interest in Indian aviation has surprised many and also made many curious about his plan.