Rakesh Jhunjhunwala plans 70 planes for new airline

Mumbai: Billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala is planning on having 70 aircraft within four years for a new airline he wants to set up in India on optimism more people will travel by air.

Jhunjhunwala, who is considering investing $35 million and would own 40 per cent of the carrier, expects to get a no-objection certificate from India’s aviation ministry in the next 15 days, he said in a Bloomberg Television interview Wednesday. The ultra-low cost airline will be called Akasa Air and the team, which includes a former senior executive of Delta Air Lines Inc., is looking at planes that can carry 180 passengers, he said.

The new airlines will be a low-cost one, relatively speaking and is to be dubbed ‘Akasa Air and the team’. He was also quoted as saying that he will be looking into investing in carriers that can seat 180 passengers. This has been dubbed a bold move by the report, in which Jhunjhunwala is taking a risk in a pandemic-stricken time where most other airlines are struggling to tread water. This all stands against the high-cost background of the aviation industry in India. As per reports, Jhunjhunwala is looking to enter this massive market with a new name and low fares in hope of attracting customers.

While speaking on the entry of his new airlines in the interview with Bloomberg Television, Jhunjhunwala said, “For the culture of a company to be frugal you’ve to start off fresh.” He then went on to add, “I’m very, very bullish on India’s aviation sector in terms of demand.”

Even before the pandemic had hit big airlines such as Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., had to close their doors and put a stop to its operations back in 2012. This was the second biggest airline in the industry at the time in the domestic carrier segment.  Similarly, there was also the collapse of Jet Airways India Ltd., which collapsed in 2019 after it was approved to fly once more.

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