The airline has a strong commitment to democratising the skies, says its Founder, MD and CEO Vinay Dube.

New Delhi: On Thursday (IST), India’s newest airline Akasa Air has taken the first delivery of its aircraft, Boeing 737 Max, in Seattle, USA. The aircraft is expected to reach India next week and with this, Akasa Air is expected to begin operation of its commercial flights sometime in July, after all approvals from the Indian authorities. The airline had already received its airline code –QP–from the aviation regulatory authorities in India last month.
On the sidelines of the airline’s first delivery and its preparation to launch commercial operations, The Sunday Guardian spoke to Akasa Air’s Founder, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Vinay Dube. Excerpts:
Q: Congratulations on the delivery of your first aircraft from Boeing. When do we expect Akasa to start commercial operations in India?
A: The delivery of our first aircraft this week brings us closer to obtaining our Air Operator’s Permit (AOP), leading to our commercial operations, which we would typically obtain upon satisfactory completion of all regulatory requirements, through a rigorous process laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Once we get our AOP, we plan to open our flights for sale. Thereafter, we will be able to commence our commercial operations.
Q: Now that you have got your first aircraft, what does the future order book of Akasa look like?
A: On Wednesday, 15 June, at 11 am Pacific Time (PT), we took delivery of our much anticipated first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Seattle, USA. With a strong commitment to democratising the skies, our total order of 72 aircraft includes an initial delivery of 18 aircraft by March 2023, followed by delivery of the remaining 54 aircraft over the course of the next four years.
Q: You have already secured a big contract with 737, so how has the start been?
A: I’m extremely pleased with the start. However, whenever we talk about our start, one must reference the difficult times that we are all living in. We have been very fortunate in the way we have started the process. We have set up Akasa Air efficiently from day one, ensuring that we are well-capitalized, have a competitive cost structure and have a world-class professional management team. The induction of the new 737 MAX airplane will support our aim of running not just a cost-efficient, reliable, and affordable airline, but will be one of the enabling factors for us to become an environmentally progressive company with the youngest and greenest fleet in the Indian skies. Our goal is to leverage best-in-class technology and build a data-driven organisation and our partnership with a technology leader like Navitaire is a testament to the same. We are convinced that globally proven solutions like New Skies and SkyLedger will power our tech-enabled strategy and help us run reliable operations and offer affordable travel options to our customers.
Q: What are the first routes that the airline is likely to finalise? Have the airlines got some slots at the major airports? If yes, which all airports have you received the slots for?
A: Our initial network focus will be to serve the metro to Tier 2 and 3 cities in India. We are working closely with private airport operators as well as the Airport Authority of India and expect to have confirmation on routes once we get our AOP.
Q: What new features could the passengers travelling by Akasa expect?
A: Akasa Air will be India’s newest and most dependable airline, offering warm and efficient customer service, reliable operations, and affordable fares—all in the Akasa Way. At the heart of Akasa Air is a higher purpose: to transform India’s air transportation ecosystem and empower fellow Indians to chase their dreams.
Our passengers will also get a chance to experience the greatest flexibility, reliability, and efficiency in the single-aisle market. Every airplane also features the new Boeing Sky Interior, highlighted by modern sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, and LED lighting that enhances the sense of spaciousness and cabin experience. Further, while the price is important, it will not be the only differentiator. Compared to current industry standards, we plan to adopt a more progressive approach in our use of technology and data analytics. That starts from the way a customer books a ticket on Akasa, the payment experience, or how we service our customers during and after their travel with us. It also extends to monitoring and reducing wait times at airport check-in counters, the time for bags to arrive and much more.
Q: What is the main motivation behind starting a new airline in India, a market that has historically been a tough market to operate airlines?
A: Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia recently highlighted his target of nearly tripling total passenger traffic by 2023-24 to 40 crore. We are in line with the government’s vision and want to cater to first-time fliers and frequent fliers alike. It is the purpose and the thought of democratization of air travel; to make air travel affordable for every single Indian that has motivated us to start Akasa Air. India’s economy is going to grow, and we have a very bright future ahead of us as a country. I think Indians will continue to have more disposable income with a growing middle class and we would like to participate in that growth process. We want to serve our country by being one of those companies that helps create strong transportation links which are the underpinning of any economic growth engine.
Q: What in your view will be the biggest determinants of success for a new player such as Akasa?
A: While the market and environment are the same for all airlines, we believe that our success will be based on how disciplined and professional we are in what we do. Creating a well-capitalized and sustainable cost structure, focussing on warm and efficient customer service, and building a workplace where our employees feel proud of the brand is what we believe will help us succeed.