India’s newest airline Akasa Air has added a 20th aircraft to its fleet, making it eligible to fly internationally. The carrier, which will complete one year of operations on August 7, has also become the first airline in Asia to have the Boeing 737-8-200.
Indian regulations require airlines to have at least 20 aircraft in their fleet to become eligible for international operations.
“Going from zero to 20 aircraft within 12 months is not just an Akasa record but a record that encapsulates the potential of the country,” said Vinay Dube, founder and CEO of Akasa Air. The airline has recorded the highest on-time performance for several consecutive months in 2023, he added.
The international routes that Akasa would be looking to explore include the Middle East, tips of Eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Dube said in an earlier interview with Skift.
The airline plans to fly international later this year with a fleet of 72 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, with intentions to expand to 100 aircraft by 2025. Last month, the carrier ordered four more planes from Boeing, which are to be delivered in the next four years. It is also looking to hire some 500 employees to its workforce ahead of the international expansion.
Currently, Akasa operates more than 900 weekly flights across 16 cities.
In June, aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation simplified the process for Indian airlines to add foreign destinations by reducing a 33-point checklist to just 10.
Leela Launches Second Property in Kerala
The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts has opened its second hotel in the southern state of Kerala — a 93-room The Leela Ashtamudi, A Raviz Hotel. Located near the Ashtamudi Lake, the hotel is two hours from the Thiruvananthapuram airport.
Raviz Hotel & Resorts has two other properties in Kerala and is under the umbrella business of RP Group.
“Kerala has historically been one of our key markets and strategically significant to our growth in the region. The resort marks another milestone in our journey as we continue to grow in the most alluring leisure destinations across the country,” said Anuraag Bhatnagar, CEO of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.
Portable Chargers Top List of Seized Items at Airports
Security personnel at airports identify nearly 25,000 prohibited items brought by air travelers daily, among which portable charging devices in check-in bags and lighters in handbags are the most commonly discovered objects, said Director-General of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Zulfiquar Hasan.
The top officer was lamenting the lack of awareness among passengers on rules governing security during air travel, and said that airports have now been ordered to remove commercial advertisements from the security frisking area inside passenger terminal buildings and told to instead display information about security protocols to be followed by air travelers.
Hasan said that each banned item resulted in an average diversion for security personnel of three minutes, amounting to a total loss of 75,000 minutes or 1250 hours per day, insisting that this time could instead be better utilized towards graver threats.
Aviation Regulator Renews Jet Airways’ Flying Permit Till September 3
Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation has renewed the air operator certificate of grounded airline Jet Airways, said Jalan-Kalrock Consortium in a statement, which is the new promoter of Jet.
Currently, the carrier is being revived under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code as per the National Company Law Tribunal approved resolution plan of Jalan Kalrock Consortium, the company said. In January, the tribunal allowed the transfer of ownership of Jet Airways to the Jalan-Kalrock consortium.
Notably, Jet Airways is the first airline in Indian aviation history that is being revived under its name after being grounded for an extended period. The airline stopped flying in April 2019 after running into financial stress. However, ownership transfer has been delayed amid continuing differences between the lenders and the consortium.
Cleartrip Partners with Kerala State Transport to Offer Bus Services
Online travel agency Cleartrip has rolled out over 4,500 bus connections in the southern state of Kerala. The company has partnered with Kerala State Road Transportation Corporation and private players to offer various bus options for travelers.
Cleartrip has an inventory of 1 million bus connections and plans to build the most extensive bus network in India. Since its launch of bus services earlier this year, the company has witnessed more than 100% growth month-on-month. Some key features of the service include a 24*7 voice helpline, no convenience fees, earning supercoins for every bus booking, quick refunds, and easy cancellation.
In May, the company unveiled a revamped version of its booking tool to enable travel agents to book over 100 airlines, more than 500,000 hotels, exclusive holiday packages, group bookings, and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.
Air India, Indigo Get Regulator Nod to Import Aircraft
Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation has given an in-principle nod for Tata Group-owned Air India and budget airline IndiGo to import a total of 970 planes, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in a statement.
As part of their expansion plans, both carriers have placed huge aircraft orders. While Air India will acquire 470 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, IndiGo is set to buy 500 planes from Airbus.
“As per the induction plan of the airlines, the aircraft are proposed to be imported during the period 2023-2035. The airline operators have been advised by DGCA to share their induction plan with airport operators for ensuring the availability of parking slots,” the statement read.
The regulator’s approval comes at a time when Indians airlines operating around 700 aircraft at the moment grapple with parking challenges.
EaseMyTrip to Acquire Three Travel Companies
Online travel platform EaseMyTrip.com is reinforcing its non-air business by planning to acquire a 51% stake in three travel companies in India.
The companies are Guideline Travels, specializing in cruises; TripShope Travel Technologies, a travel and leisure solution provider in Kashmir; and Delhi-based Dook Travels, an integrated travel management company operating across various countries.
Nishant Pitti, co-founder of EaseMyTrip, said the acquisitions will enable the company to offer diverse services to larger markets, capitalize on growing inbound and outbound trips to and from India, and expand its international footprint. The acquisition price was not disclosed.
EaseMyTrip.com has been actively expanding its non-air business since going public in India in 2021. In December last year, it acquired a 75% stake in Nutana Aviation Capital, which leases charter aircraft and provides charter services, and in January, it acquired a 55% stake in hotel booking marketplace cheQin.