Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

Indian billionaire plans to buy 70 aircraft for low-cost air travel

Business tycoon Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, fondly known as India’s Warren Buffet, is planning to buy 70 aircraft at an investment of $35 million dollars over four years, for his upcoming ultra-low cost airlines.

According to Bloomberg, the project is driven by Jhunjhunwala’s hope that air travel will have more takers in future. Jhunjhunwala, who would own 40 per cent of the airlines told Bloomberg TV that he expects to get a clearance from the Aviation Ministry in the next 15 days.

The airlines will be named Akasa Air and is expected to induct planes which could seat 180 passengers.

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“For the culture of a company to be frugal you’ve to start off fresh…I’m very, very bullish on India’s aviation sector in terms of demand,” Bloomberg quoted the billionaire as saying

The idea of launching a new low-cost airline is being called a rather bold step by Jhunjhunwala, especially when the Indian economy is in doldrums and some airlines have shut shop due to high costs and inability to pay staff while others are looking at difficult days ahead. The glaring examples are Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines, once India’s second-largest domestic carrier, which was shut down in 2012, and Jet Airways which had collapsed in 2019, but was recently approved to operate again.

That apart, demand for international air travel has substantially declined after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns by countries across the globe. India’s aviation industry may take a while to recover, especially when a third wave of the pandemic is in the offing.

However, the possible hiccups have not deterred Jhunjhunwala, who invests hope in his team to make his project a successful one.

“I think some of the increment players may not recover,” he told Bloomberg TV. “I’ve got some of the best airline people in the world as my partners,” he added.

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