India’s newest airline, Akasa Air, is gearing up to expand its operations and plans to operate more than 150 flights in a week by late September. Backed by India’s Warren Buffett Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Akasa Air took to the skies for the first time on August 7, 2022, with an inaugural flight on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. Making a promising initiative in the airline sector, Akasa is set to stretch its wings in Indian skies with over 150 weekly flights by the end of September. Let’s investigate further.
Network expansion plans
On August 7, India’s newest low-cost airline, Akasa Air, made its inaugural flight with much fanfare from Mumbai to Ahmedabad using Boeing 737 Max aircraft. The inaugural event made the headlines in mainstream media and the Indian aviation community, marking a significant milestone in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.
Nearly a week later, on August 13, the budget carrier bolstered its presence by commencing air service between Bengaluru and Kochi, with 28 flights per week. At present, Akasa Air offers flights on Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Bengaluru-Kochi, and Bengaluru-Mumbai routes. As the carrier took the delivery of the third Boeing 737 Max on August 16, it will deploy the same aircraft to conduct two daily flights in each direction on the Mumbai-Bengaluru route for now.
In a press release, Akasa Air informed its further expansion plans with additional flights in the domestic Indian sector. Beginning August 30, 2022, the new startup will add one daily flight on the Bengaluru-Mumbai route and another from September 19. The carrier also stated in the release that it would tap into a new domestic network connecting Bengaluru with Chennai from September 10, 2022.
Headquartered in Mumbai, Maharastra, Akasa Air concentrates its traffic flow through hubs in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and Kempegowda International Airport. Promising precedent low fares to benefit the price-sensitive market, the airline has announced flight operations for six routes across five domestic cities.
New aircraft every two week
The current fleet of Akasa Air consists of 3 Boeing 737 Max narrowbody aircraft. The carrier received its first 737-8 on June 16, 2022, the second on July 26, and the third one joined the fleet on August 16. Pursuing faster growth plans, the carrier has announced to receive a new aircraft every two weeks until it inducts 72 aircraft over the next five years.
On November 16, 2021, the Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala placed a big order of 72 Boeing 737 max aircraft (including 737 Max 8 and higher-capacity 737 Max 200) for Akasa Air to be the newest and greenest carrier in the nation. The carrier anticipates having a fleet size of 18 jets by the 2023 March end and 54 additional jets over the next four years.
Financially strong to induct new aircraft
The carrier’s founder and CEO, Vinay Dube, stated that the carrier was well capitalized with financial means and strong enough to place an even larger aircraft order in the next 18 months. While the sudden passing of Akasa’s biggest investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala on August 14 has come as a big blow to the carrier, Dube said that the airline is adequately funded to achieve secure growth.
Jhunjhunwala’s backing provided the tailwind for Akasa, sharp insights, and strong financing for the low-cost carrier to capitalize on the economic growth of India and a new, affordable airline for the traveling public. With a 40% stake, Jhunjhunwala founded and launched Akasa Air which became the nation’s first scheduled domestic carrier to start operations in nearly a decade.
In the light of Jhunjhunwala’s legacy, values, intellect, and finance to run the airline, the absence of India’s business magnate will surely affect the trajectory of the newly launched Akasa Air. However, Akasa is optimistic about its future and has stated that it will honor its legacy by ensuring that it will strive to become an extraordinary airline and thrive gradually for years to come.
With a strong financial platform to survive in Jhunjhunwala’s absence and a clear vision to serve the nation and support its ongoing economic transformation, Akasa Air could make a strong position in the Indian market characterized by fast growth and razor-thin profit margin. Akasa Air’s top management is led by CEO Vinay Dube and former IndiGo CEO Aditya Ghosh, both of whom are experienced in airline operations and make a strong team to compete against. The coming years will show if Akasa will find a place in this tight-margin aviation market.