Rakesh Jhunjhunjwala-backed Akasa Air gets govt approval, to start operations by 2022

By Aparna Banerjea
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with one of India's biggest stock market investors Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and his wife Rekha Jhunjhunwala

It's official! Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed new airline Akasa has got no objection certificate (NOC) from the government to take it to the skies, SNV Aviation Pvt Ltd announced on Monday. It  will fly under the brand name 'Akasa Air'.

The airline, which is also backed by former Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube will now seek license from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for operating from summer of 2022. It will have Vinay Dube as the CEO. 

Former IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh, who is on Akasa's board, congratulated Vinay Dube and team on receiving the NOC. 

“Many congratulations to #VinayDube and Team #AKASA on receiving the NOC from MOCA as it embarks on its journey to offer Indian flyers a warm, efficient, reliable and affordable travel experience with an endeavour to be the nation’s most dependable, affordable and greenest airline," Ghosh tweeted. 

 

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was called on by Jhunjhunwala and his wife Rekha. 

“Delighted to meet the one and only Rakesh Jhunjhunwala...lively, insightful and very bullish on India," posted PM Modi on Twitter after meeting Jhunjhunwala, who is often referred to as the Warren Buffett of India or the Big Bull and whose every stock move and investment strategy on Dalal Street are closely tracked by investors.

Meanwhile, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer recently told news agency PTI that the company is in talks with Akasa for an aircraft procurement deal.

Akasa has been in discussions with US plane manufacturer Boeing to procure its B737 Max planes, multiple media reports had said two months back. Airbus's A320 series of aircraft competes with Boeing's B737 series of planes in the aviation market.

It aims to start operations by the summer of 2022 plans to operate approximately 70 planes in the next four years.

Jhunjhunwala is an Indian business magnate and stocks trader. He manages his own portfolio as a partner in his asset management firm, Rare Enterprises. During his early life, Rakesh grew up in an Agarwal Family in Bombay, where his father, worked as Commissioner of Income Tax, Bombay.

He has an estimated net worth of $5.7 billion (as of October 2021). He has invested 247.50 crore in the airline.

IndiGo -- India's largest carrier with around 50 per cent share of the Indian domestic aviation market -- operates only Airbus's narrow body aircraft. Among all Indian carriers, only SpiceJet and Air India Express operate Boeing's narrow body aircraft.

A narrow-body aircraft like A320 and B737 has a smaller fuel tank and therefore, it can fly for shorter distances.

DGCA had in August cleared Boeing Co's 737 MAX aircraft to fly with immediate effect, ending its nearly two-and-a-half-years of regulatory grounding in a key travel market for the planemaker.

It had said in its order that it has closely monitored the 737 MAX's global un-grounding trend, and has found "no untoward reporting" with 34 airlines across the world currently operating 345 MAX planes.

The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people, plunging Boeing into a financial crisis, since compounded by the pandemic.


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