Investor and billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala is considering investing $35 million to launch 70 aircraft within the next four years, as a part of his ultra-low-cost airline Akasa Air, Jhunjhunwala told Bloomberg on Wednesday. “I’m very, very bullish on India’s aviation sector in terms of demand,” he said.
Akasa Air is expected to get a no-objection certificate from the aviation ministry within the next 15 days and will include a fleet of planes that can carry around 180 passengers. A Delta Airlines executive is expected to join the aviation company, Jhunjunwala said. “For the culture of a company to be frugal you’ve to start off fresh,” he said during Wednesday’s interview.
Jhunjhunwala is foraying into an industry that has suffered significant losses due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Even before the pandemic, domestic airlines like Kingfisher and Jet Airways were struggling and had to close shop. InterGlobe Aviation, the parent of the country’s largest airline IndiGo, reported a net loss of ₹3,174 crore on Tuesday, for the three months to June, primarily due to a sharp decline in revenues amid the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The airline, which had a fleet of 277 planes at the end of June 2021, incurred a net loss of ₹2,844 crore in the year-ago period.
However, all such details are not deterring Jhunjhunwala from investing in the aviation industry, who’s well versed in the realities of going this business. “I think some of the increment players may not recover,” he said, but expressed confidence in his partners and said, “I’ve got some of the best airline people in the world as my partners.”