India's newest budget carrier Akasa Air, which is backed by billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, has got a final approval from the country's aviation regulator to begin flying passengers, it said on Thursday.
The airline plans to launch its first flight later this month, Akasa said in a statement, after receiving its air operator certificate (AOC) from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
"We now look forward to opening our flights for sale, leading to the start of commercial operations by late July," the airline's founder and Chief Executive Vinay Dube said.
The certificate is awarded by the DGCA at the end of a rigorous process to check whether the airline meets all regulatory requirements, and after conducting several 'proving' flights to show its operational readiness.
Akasa, which will compete with other Indian airlines like IndiGo, the country's largest, and SpiceJet, placed an order for 72 Boeing 737 MAX jets last year, valued at nearly $9 billion at list prices.
It will begin operations with two planes and ramp up to 18 aircraft by the end of the current fiscal year. Akasa will then add about 12 to 14 planes each year, reaching 72 aircraft over the next five years, the airline said.
Jhunjhunwala, known as "India's Warren Buffett", teamed up with ex-Jet Airways CEO Dube and former IndiGo head Aditya Ghosh for Akasa, which plans to tap rising demand for domestic air travel.