Indian skies will see a new airline this winter as regional airline Fly91 has got approval from the government.
The airline aims to start flights in the October-December quarter. It is promoted by Harsha Raghavan, the former head of Fairfax India and Manoj Chacko, executive vice president of defunct Kingfisher Airlines. The airline will have the new Goa airport built by GMR as its main base.
“We have got No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Now we will start the process to get an Air Operator’s Permit (AOP) from the DGCA. It’s an exhaustive process and we are planning to start service from winter this year,” Chacko, an aviation industry veteran, told ET.
Chacko said that the airline which will have a fleet of ATR-72 aircraft of 76 seats will start operations with three planes and will scale up to six aircraft in the first year. “We are aiming to be an airline which provides last mile connectivity and connecting remote locations which doesn’t have infra for an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 aircraft. From Goa one multiple destinations in Maharashtra and Karnataka like Hubbali, Shirdi, Nashik, Belgaum falls in the range of an ATR aircraft,” Chacko said.
Raghavan and Chacko’s company Just Udo Aviation Private Limited is the parent company of the airline and has raised capital of Rs 200 crore. “That is enough for a small airline which is looking at measured growth,” Chacko said, adding that he firmly believes in the lowest unit cost for an airline and would like to model Fly91 on the lines of IndiGo or Air Arabia.
The history of Indian aviation has not been kind to regional airlines with them shutting shop after a few years of sustaining losses. Some airlines like Truejet, Pegasus have shut down despite well-funded promoters backing them. Experts say that this happens as regional airlines face competition from mainline airlines which have a bigger business and hence a low unit economics.
Chacko says that Fly91 instead of competing with mainline carriers will look to have codeshare and interline agreements with them. “We will have an open API for our system. Any airline in the world which doesn’t fly to a remote airport will be able to tie up with us to provide last mile connectivity to their customers on a single ticket,” Chacko said saying that except IndiGo and SpiceJet, no Indian airlines have a fleet of smaller turboprop aircraft and can be a potential partner.