Akasa Air (QP, Mumbai International), the Indian low-cost carrier planned by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and a number of executives from other Indian airlines, has - a source told the financial channel CNBC-TV18 on August 4 - received the no-objection certificate it was waiting for from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

However, in a LinkedIn post on August 5, Economic Times journalist Tarun Shukla claimed that the venture's chief executive, former Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai International) CEO Vinay Dube, had told him that the certificate had not yet been granted but that he hoped it would be soon.

Nevertheless, the start-up aims to commence flight operations by the end of 2021, the CNBC source said. Akasa Air is expected to be based out of Bangalore International with a route network that is initially fairly close to the city including destinations such as Chennai, Hyderabad International, and Mumbai International.

The would-be carrier has been in talks with manufacturers and is likely to build a fleet of Boeing narrowbodies, probably leasing B737 MAX aircraft, the source claimed. Once an aircraft acquisition deal is secure, it will apply for an air operator’s certificate (AOC).

“Lower lease rentals due to Covid-19 and a weaker salary structure are likely to lead to lower expenses, which works in favour of a new airline such as Akasa Air. However, the uncertain demand environment due to the pandemic could be a risk factor,” one of the sources said.

Akasa Air plans a fleet of 70 aircraft after four years. Jhunjhunwala is expected to own a stake of almost 40% and is considering sinking USD35 million into the venture. While Dube will be its chief executive, former IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi International) chief Aditya Ghosh will sit on the board.