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BUSINESS - AVIATION - AIR DECCAN

Let a hundred Air Deccan flights bloom!

 

BY A CORRESPONDENT

 March 28: A hundred new flights every year for the expanding Indian skies: that is what upstart Indian low-budget airline Air Deccan has in mind for the next six years.

Air Deccan on Sunday, March 27 inaugurated its Mumbai-Nashik low-budget flight, and the fare works out to Rs 999. The cheap ticket is not for long, just fifteen days.

According to Air Decccan managing director Captain GR Gopinath, the Indian economy is growing and there is not enough market penetration even now. Capt GR Gopinath contrasts India to the minute Singapore, which has 1000 flights every day, whereas India has only 600.

Air Deccan is now planning to fly to many small locations, to net even higher numbers of passengers. Flying in smaller, non-metro routes is the strategy adopted by Air One, the Bangalore-based low-cost airline. Read our report on Air One launch here. 

Deccan Aviation, which owns Air Deccan recently raised nearly $40 million via private equity funding. Air Deccan is also expected to go for initial public offering (IPO) to mop up more funds for its expansion. The Air Deccan IPO is likely in 12-18 months.

The low-budget airline Air Deccan which started in August 2003 has been a trendsetter in Indian aviation. The concept of budget airlines has been alien to India till then. Following on its success, many other Indian corporates too took a fancy to the skies, among them Kingfisher Airlines, Royal Airways’ Spice Jet, Air One and Go Air. Currently, Air Deccan operates about 106 flights every day, with 18 aircraft.
Air Deccan recently ordered 60 aircraft, which will land up over five years, including 30 Airbus A 320 and 30 ATR-72--500s. 

Air Deccan is also planning to set up an Airbus A320 and ATR simulator to train its pilots and a hangar at Bangalore and Chennai for aircraft maintenance. For this, the company will be investing about $25-30 million. The simulator project will be a joint venture. Air Deccan has recruited 150 pilots as part of its expansion plans.

The government’s recent directive increasing the retirement age for pilots has comes a boon for Air Deccan. It has recalled some of the pilots who had left service to man its flights. The Indian aviation industry is facing a shortage of pilots due to the sudden mushrooming of airline companies in India.

BY A CORRESPONDENT

 

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