Akasa Air launch delayed to July
Low-cost carrier Akasa Air will now take to the skies in July, about a month later than when it was expected to start operations, reports Ashwini Phadnis for Moneycontrol.
“The airline’s take off will slip over into July,” Vinay Dube, Founder, MD and CEO of startup airline, said in a telephonic interview over the weekend.
The launch has been pushed back by a few weeks because the airline is yet to import an aircraft, after which it will get the air operator’s permit, which will pave the way for Akasa Air to apply for slots at airports. The airline will also have to carry out proving flights before it gets the green signal to take off.
A proving flight allows an operator to demonstrate to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) its ability to conduct the flight of a newly inducted aircraft safely and in accordance with rules and regulations. The airline will start with an all-Boeing fleet. Akasa signed orders for 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft during the Dubai Airshow 2021 in November. Eighteen aircraft are due to arrive in the first year and the entire order will be delivered over five years.
Dube said it would be wrong to assume that the decision to get 18 aircraft in the first year was driven by the desire to start international operations at the earliest.
“We feel 18 provides the right economies of scale to a startup airline looking to start safe and maintain economies of scale. Five (aircraft) is too few and 40 is too many,” he said.
Indian carriers must have at least 20 aircraft to start international flights, a criterion that Akasa Air will fulfill in its second year. Dube said the airline hopes to start international operations in the second quarter of 2023.
The first 20 aircraft that Akasa will get will be white-tail aircraft, which are planes that have been produced but not taken by any airline and hence do not have an airline’s logo on them.
Apart from the launch delay by a few weeks, things are moving fast, according to Dube. The airline has hired staff members primarily from other airlines as Akasa needs trained personnel to get off the ground.
About 120 flight attendants, 150 pilots and 20 aircraft engineers have been signed up to join Akasa.
“We have about 25 to 30 pilots on our payrolls. Others will join as aircraft keep getting inducted,” Dube said.