Jyotiraditya Scindia flags off first flight of new airline Akasa Air
The airline, backed by ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and aviation veterans Aditya Ghosh and Vinay Dube, received its air operator certificate from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on July 7
Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Sunday virtually flagged off Akasa Air’s first commercial flight, that departed from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, and termed the inauguration a “new dawn” for the civil aviation sector in the country in more ways than one.
Flight QP1101, with 189 passengers, took off from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport at 10.05am and landed at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad at 11:25 am.
The airline, backed by ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and aviation veterans Aditya Ghosh and Vinay Dube, received its air operator certificate from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on July 7.
“The inaugural flight today is a new dawn in the history of civil aviation in India. It is because of the foresightedness and visionary goal and zeal of the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) that we have seen for the first time in India, the democratisation of civil aviation,” Scindia said at the virtual inauguration.
“Earlier, this (civil aviation) industry was considered for the elite. His (Prime Minister’s) dream, his vision – that a person wearing slippers can also fly in a plane – has led to a transformation of this sector in the last eight years in terms of affordability, accessibility and inclusion as we have never seen before,” he added.
Scindia also said that he was “confident that in the coming days, Akasa Air will certainly make a very important mark”.
The country’s civil aviation sector is poised for a phenomenal and healthy growth in terms of passengers, aircraft and airports, with the number of air travellers projected to touch 400 million by 2027, the Union minister said.
“Over the last eight years, India’s civil aviation industry has completely transformed. Under the UDAN (Udey Desh ka Aam Aadmi) scheme, we have 425 routes aiming to go up to 1,000 routes and 68 new airports aiming to touch 100 airports. In the next four years, we are expecting 400 million travellers in India,” he said.
About Jhunjhunwala, Scindia said: “I think the one word that describes him aptly in terms of his lifespan is ‘innovation’ and we have seen that in today’s function as well.”
Akasa Air, a brand of SNV Aviation Private Limited, aims to be a low-cost carrier with a single fleet and all economy seats, according to a government release. Based in Mumbai, the airline plans to expand its activities to 72 aircraft in the next five years, which will significantly enhance domestic aviation services in India.
It is slated to begin services along the Bengaluru-Kochi, Bengaluru-Mumbai and Chennai-Mumbai routes from August 13, August 19 and September 15, respectively.
As of now, Akasa Air will operate flights on four routes. It will add an additional two aircraft each month and aims to induct 18 aircraft by the end of 2023. It plans to add another 12 to 14 planes every 12 months, which will make up its order of 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, delivered over five years.
Minister of state for civil aviation (Gen) Dr V.K Singh (Retd) and secretary Rajiv Bansal, who also joined the event, congratulated the airline.
Usha Padhee, joint secretary, ministry of civil aviation (MoCA), Rekha Jhunjhunwala, the wife of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Vinay Dube, CEO and founder of Akasa Air, and Neelu Khatri, co-founder and senior vice-president of the airline, also attended the event.