Recently-launched airlines Akasa Air has announced that it will now allow pet dogs and cats in cabin and cargo from November onwards while bookings for the same will begin from October 15.
“From November, domesticated dogs and cats can travel. The bookings in this regard will start from October 15,” airlines co-founder, chief Marketing and experience officer Belson Coutinho told reporters on Thursday.
The airlines has said that only one pet will be allowed person.
“Each pet will have to be in a cage. The weight limit, including the cage, will be 7 kilograms in the case of cabin and 32 kilograms in check-in. There will be another option for heavier pets. The policy for pets will be “enhanced” later,” he said.
“We did have a lot of pet lovers asking… we all believe that we need to have an inclusive environment for pets as well. It (the decision) comes out of our love for pets,” Coutinho said.
The airline has tied up with Umeedforanimals, an NGO to adopt best practises to handle pets on board.
Rivals including Air India, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and Vistara also allow pets on board.
International services by 2023
The airline, which is “well capitalised”, plans to start international services in the second half of 2023 once it has a fleet of 20 planes. Currently, the carrier has six aircraft and will have a total of 18 planes by the end of March next year.
Akasa Air Founder and CEO Vinay Dube on Thursday said the airline’s performance has been “satisfying” in the first 60 days. “We are very happy, satisfied with… our performance”. Currently, the carrier has 30 daily flights, will start services from Delhi on Friday. “It started operations on August 7. The airline is progressively expanding its network and connecting more cities,” its co-founder and chief commercial officer Praveen Iyer said.
Dube said the airline is well capitalised and is not looking to have new investors. To a query on whether there has been any change in strategy following the demise of its key investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Dube replied in the negative. “There is no change in strategy… in terms of moral, emotional support, it is a deep deep loss,” he noted.
On August 17, Dube said the airline is well-capitalised and its growth is secure with the financial means to place an order for more planes, days after the passing away of Jhunjhunwala.
With the passing away of ace investor Jhunjhuwala, whose backing itself had provided a tailwind for the country’s newest airline, the future trajectory of the airline will be closely watched.
Regarding the governments Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS), the Akasa Air chief on Thursday said it is appreciative that the government continues to recognise the importance of the aviation sector. “We just hope that the governments support extends to start-up airlines as well. Start-up airlines are operating in the same difficult environment… we will be more than happy to get any kind of government support… I don’t know what is on the table. So I can’t elaborate,” he said.
About airfares, Dube said the airline looks at the affordability of airfares in a much longer time horizon and “our view is that we will have a high degree of focus on infrastructure”.
At present, the airline has a total staff of around 800 and about 175 people are joining every month.
(With inputs from agencies)