Despite the escalation in aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices and other cost pressures, promoter and chief executive of the soon-to-be launched low-cost carrier (LCC) Akasa Air, Vinay Dube remains confident of the airline doing well.
“High oil prices have honestly not resulted in any change in our plans. And it’s not that I am trying to put on a brave face. Would I like to see crude back at $40 a barrel? Absolutely! Would I like to see INR at 60 to USD? Absolutely! Having been in aviation for 32 years, I can tell you that you don’t get into this business if you are scared of forex or crude spike; you plan for ups and downs,” asserted Dube.
Dube was speaking at an evening briefing after the first of the airline’s 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft landed at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) on Tuesday. The airline is looking at commencing commercial operations in late July. However, that is dependent on it receiving the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) from the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after conducting a series of proving flights.
An aircraft is required to undertake five successful landings with a full complement of pilots and cabin crew under DGCA supervision as part of the process.
“My goals in the medium term include employee and customer satisfaction and reasonable profitability will follow if you have satisfied employees and happy customers. As professionals we have spent a one-and-a-half year on developing a competitive cost structure from day one,” emphasised Dube.
Reiterating that as part of its growth strategy the airline would especially be focusing on connecting metros with Tier-II and Tier-III cities, he said there was sufficient room for multiple operators to survive in the Indian skies today.
“Growth is everywhere in India, it’s just a question of where we are best suited to play given the landscape. In terms of growth in demand, it’s going to be staggering for the next 20 years plus in India. We don’t need to take someone else’s market share or steal someone else’s traffic,” he elaborated.
The airline is also hopeful of launching flights on international routes by the second half of 2023 with its B737 MAX aircraft. The airline will be taking deliveries of 19 B737 MAX and 53 B737-8-200 MAX over five years.
“One of the outstanding qualities of the Max is its range. On a full payload it should be able to reach east Africa, the middle east and southeast Asia,” said Dube.
And like its peers, cargo operations will be an important area for Akasa to maximise revenues. The B737 MAX offers three-tonne cargo capacity that the airline will be looking at filling. Further, the airline is expected to make a series of marketing and product-related announcements once it receives the AOC.
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