Akasa Air (QP, Mumbai International) aims to launch commercial operations by the end of July, as it focuses on linking tier-2 cities across India with a fleet of over 70 aircraft by its fifth year, CEO Vinay Dube has told the Indian financial news broadcaster CNBC TV18 in an interview.

Having placed an order with Boeing last November for seventy-two B737-8 and B737-8-200 MAX jets, it expects to take the first delivery by early June, Dube said, adding that the well-financed start-up had already enlisted 150 pilots and 120 cabin crew.

Akasa Air, which had previously targeted a commercial launch date of June, has received all regulatory approvals barring an air operator’s certificate (AOC) permit, the chief executive said.

“We expect our first aircraft to be delivered in mid-June and expect commercial operations in late July,” he said, as quoted by financial news site Moneycontrol.

“We need to get the delivery of our first aircraft before we can get the air operator’s permit. It is a very rigorous process and we anticipate getting that in late June and will then, on the basis of that, start operations in late July,” he elaborated.

Asked about routes, Dube said the airline would start from India's biggest (“metropolitan”) cities and then shift its focus to tier-2 cities.

“We are in the process of discussions with individual airports as well as with the Airports Authority of India, trying to finalise which airports have space for us as far as the slots, parking bays, and other infrastructure that is required for us to launch is concerned. We hope to finalise these in the very near future,” he explained.