Not long ago, aviation veteran Vinay Dube was in the initial stages of starting a new airline in India. Within a year, he has managed to find high-profile investors, sign an aircraft deal with Boeing, and reveal the airline’s branding. So far, things seem to be on track, and Akasa Air looks to have enough momentum to start operations this summer.
First flight just months away
Last week, in an interview with ET Now, Akasa Air’s CEO Vinay Dube squashed all rumors about the airline being a ULCC, stating it will be a low-cost carrier, pretty much like most of its competition in the country. In the same interview, Dube also touched upon other immediate plans of the airline, including its summer launch and company finances.
Akasa has signed a 72-aircraft deal with Boeing and is looking to get the delivery of its first MAX airplane in a few months from now. While the first aircraft will be needed to complete regulatory approvals and kick off operations, the company plans to add more than 15 MAXs by next year. Giving a breakdown of the timeline, Dube said,
“We are looking to get our first aircraft in the second half of April, and it won’t be put into commercial service immediately. The first aircraft will help us with our operating certificate. Our first commercial flight we hope to have in late May or early June. By the end of the fiscal year 2022-23, we hope to have 18 aircraft delivered and then 14-16 aircraft every 12 months.”
Preparations for a summer launch
Akasa’s management is busy holding negotiations and discussions with several stakeholders in the run-up to the scheduled summer launch. It’s not yet known which city will be the airline’s biggest hub, but the management is in talks with all key airports for slots, parking bays, and counters.
While the air operators certificate (AOC) approval is still to come in and the first few routes are yet to be finalized, Dube is happy with the progress made so far, stating,
“…when you look at aircraft, the asset and the aircraft maintenance that is about 40% of airlines cost structure, another 40% comes from fuel. So getting the aircraft, and the engine maintenance done correctly from day one is very important. We already have that in place. So we are very pleased in terms of how we are starting.”
As a startup company in an industry with skinny margins, Akasa will need a steady flow of cash. Thankfully, the airline’s biggest investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala has helped in more ways than one. Not only has he infused the much-needed initial capital, but his endorsement has been a big draw for other investors to show confidence in the venture.
Dube says that Akasa will not start a price war with other carriers when it begins flying. And while the airline may have to raise more funds in the future, he feels that the business is well capitalized for the time being.
What are your thoughts on Akasa Air? Are you looking forward to flying the LCC in the future? Do share your comments.
Both of the accidents involved single-engine Cessna aircraft.
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