Akasa Air (QP, Mumbai International) is financially strong and its ambitious growth plans are secure, including the capability to place an order for even more aircraft by the end of 2023, CEO Vinay Dube said on August 17, three days after the death of the carrier’s key investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.

Jhunjhuwala died suddenly on the morning of August 14 at the age of 62, just one week after Akasa Air conducted its first commercial flight.

The airline took delivery of its third of sixty-seven B737 MAX jets currently on order, B737-8 VT-YAC (msn 43563), on August 12, according to the ch-aviation fleets module. It will be deployed between Bengaluru International and Mumbai International. Akasa ordered 72 of the MAX twinjets last November but later dropped five of them in May.

Akasa Air currently operates four routes, the ch-aviation capacities module shows: Bangalore-Kochi International (14x weekly), Bangalore-Mumbai (14x weekly), Ahmedabad-Mumbai (13x weekly), and Ahmedabad-Bangalore (6x weekly).

Jhunjhunwala and his family reportedly hold a stake in the company of around 45%, and Dube released a statement to local media publicly thanking him for his support.

“We will always be grateful. Akasa Air is financially well-capitalised enough to induct 72 aircraft in the next five years. We will expand our fleet by adding one aircraft every two weeks,” he said. “The airline’s growth is secure. In fact, our financial position is so strong that we are in a position to place another aircraft order in the next 18 months. This order will be significantly larger than before.”

Jhunjhunwala was a billionaire stock trader and investor who had an estimated net worth of USD5.8 billion by the time of his death but had plans to donate a quarter of his fortune to charity.

Dube concluded: “Jhunjhunwala recognised India’s potential as one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world with an unparalleled potential and decades of progress ahead of us. He was a true believer in India’s potential and saw Akasa Air serving our nation by building the transportation links that will support India’s ongoing economic transformation.”