Rakesh Jhunjhunwala dies week after 1st flight of his Akasa Air
New Delhi, Aug 14: Famed investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, who passed away after a cardiac arrest will be remembered for giving India its new airline Akasa Air after more than a decade. He died a week after Akasa Air, backed by him, began commercial operations.
The airline, which is the newest entrant in the highly competitive Indian aviation market, has started operations at a time when competition is quite fierce among Indian carriers as they are in a recovery phase post the COVID-19 pandemic.
With multiple technical snags resulting in low customer interest in flying, Akasa Air brings a fresh energy with its brand new aircrafts, curated menu and cabin crew dress.
Akasa Air is an airline brand under the holding aviation venture SNV Aviation, which is owned by market bull Jhunjhunwala. Jhunjhunwala held a 40 per cent stake in the company. He has teamed up with former chief executives of IndiGo and Jet Airways, Aditya Ghosh and Vinay Dube, respectively, to tap into rising long-term prospects for domestic air travel in India.
Union Aviation minister Scindia had on August 7 inaugurated Akasa Air's first flight, which operated from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. The airline had on July 7 received air operator certificate from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Jhunjhunwala was present at the Mumbai airport on August 7 for Akasa Air's inaugural flight.
Jhujhunwala had then said in his speech: "I must thank you (Scindia) because people say that India has a very very bad bureaucracy but the cooperation that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has given us, it is unbelievable."
Nowhere in the world has an airline been conceived and born in 12 months, he had added.
"Normally a child is born in 9 months, we took 12 months. It would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Ministry of Civil Aviation," he had noted.
In the coming days, Akasa Air's strategy will remain to start operations from tier-2 and tier-3 cities and avoid highly competitive metro-to-metro routes, they noted. Indian carriers, just like their global carriers, were battered by the pandemic, which had curtailed air travel drastically.
With the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) giving its green light to 737 Max planes in August 2021, Akasa Air signed a deal with Boeing on November 26 last year to purchase 72 Max aircraft. The airline will receive all 72 planes within the next five years.