The competitive Indian aviation market has a brand-new entrant following a first fare-paying flight by a fledgling airline…
The carrier in question is Akasa Air.
Its maiden revenue rotation took to the skies on the service between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in western India – a distance of 275 miles – on August 7. This historic sortie was operated by one of the firm’s CFM International LEAP-1B-powered Boeing 737 MAX 8’s, VT-YAA (c/n 62871), as Flight QP 1101.
As part of the inaugural flight celebrations, several important dignitaries were present, including the Honourable Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia-ji and the Honourable Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, General (Dr) V K Singh-ji. During the ceremony, both were handed a boarding pass from the airline as part of a “symbolic gesture”.
Vinay Dube, founder and chief executive officer, Akasa Air, said: “[This] marks a significant milestone in Akasa Air’s journey as we successfully commence our commercial operations with our maiden flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. This is not just a testament to the women and men of Akasa that have made this day possible, but also a testament of India’s ongoing economic transformation and that of the country’s rapidly progressing civil aviation landscape… We want to serve our country by creating strong transportation links which are the underpinning of any economic growth engine”.
Dube added: “We are thrilled to finally begin our commercial journey and bring alive our vision of supporting India’s economic progress and building India’s greenest, most dependable, and most affordable airline. Akasa Air’s empathetic and youthful personality, employee-friendly culture, customer-service philosophy, and tech-led approach will make this commitment a reality for us. We are now focused on delivering a flying experience unlike anything witnessed in the Indian skies thus far.”
With ticket sales having first opened on July 22, Akasa Air will adopt a “phased approach to grow its network”.
As such, during the initial phase, the firm currently plies Mumbai-Ahmedabad with Flights QP 1101/1102 (operating daily except Wednesdays) and QP 1107/1108 (daily).
However, from August 12, it’s scheduled to add connections between Bengaluru and Kochi in the country’s south, firstly with QP 1353/1354, and complemented by QP 1351/1352 from the following day (both at daily frequency).
Then, throughout this month and September, more flights and destinations are due to come online.
At the time of writing, the new rotations set to start comprise Bengaluru-Mumbai (from August 19), Bengaluru-Ahmedabad (August 23) and Mumbai-Chennai (September 15). Meanwhile, existing links which were already scheduled to have begun, such as Bengaluru-Mumbai, are planned to receive more sorties throughout both months.
With Akasa Air currently fielding a pair of 189-seat MAX 8 examples – VT-YAA (pictured), as well as VT-YAB (c/n 62875) – the Indian-based airline says it plans to accept two next-generation narrowbodies per month; it’s understood the next airframes due will be registered VT-YAC (c/n 43563) and VT-YAD (c/n 60717).
Consequently, with bold ambitions, it anticipates an 18-strong aircraft fleet by the end of March next year, while “over the next four years”, Akasa Air intends to add a further 54 jets, taking its total to 72 examples.
The fledging firm made headlines on day three of last year’s Dubai Airshow after Akasa Air inked a deal with Boeing – worth almost $9bn based on list prices at the time – for 72 examples of the MAX, consisting of the MAX 8 and high-capacity MAX 8-200 variants.