Last Updated: July 29 2021

Billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwal is planning on having 70 aircraft within four years for a new airline he wants to set up in India on optimism more people will travel by air.

Jhunjhunwala, who is considering investing $35 million and would own 40% of the carrier, expects to get a no-objection certificate from India’s aviation ministry in the next 15 days.

The ultra-low cost airline will be called Akasa Air and the team, which includes a former senior executive of Delta Air Lines Inc., is looking at planes that can carry 180 passengers, he said.

“For the culture of a company to be frugal you’ve to start off fresh,” Jhunjhunwala said. “I’m very, very bullish on India’s aviation sector in terms of demand.”

Aditya Ghosh, IndiGo’s former president will also join hands with ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, and ‘ former CEO, Vinay Dube, as a co-founder of Akasa.

Even before the coronavirus crisis, airline operators faced a stiff challenge in India despite the steep increase in the number of flyers. At least two major airlines – Kingfisher Airways and Jet Airways India – collapsed in the past decade. The latter was recently approved to resume operations.

Jet Airways seeks Aviation Ministry nod to buy six Kingfisher slots

While demand for air travel has been hit globally, India’s aviation industry is at greater risk of delayed recovery as the threat of a third wave of infections looms. Airlines are feeling the impact.

Vistara, which Singapore Airlines Ltd. jointly owns with conglomerate Tata Group, is in discussions with Boeing Co. and Airbus SE to delay aircraft deliveries and make changes to the payment timetables. IndiGo, India’s largest airline, reported a wider-than-anticipated loss as Covid disruption crimped its revenue.

This would not be the first time when Jhunjhunwala has invested in the aviation sector. He had owned over one percent stake in SpiceJet and had also owned one percent in Jet Airways.

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