The government of Karnataka in southwestern India is considering launching its own airline to improve intrastate and regional connectivity, the state’s industries and infrastructure development minister MB Patil revealed on September 1, having discussed the matter with local carrier Star Air (India) (S5, Belgaum).

Patil said at a news conference that he had spoken with the owner and founder of Star Air, Sanjay Ghodawat, who he knows personally, to find out approximately how much starting such an airline would cost.

“As per his assessment, it costs INR2 billion rupees [USD24.2 million] to procure one new plane, and if we want to buy three then it’s INR6 billion [USD72.6 million]. He explained that if we lease the planes it would be much cheaper, but for a government INR6 billion is not such a big amount. We are considering the possibilities,” the official said, as quoted by the Times Of India and the Hindustan Times.

He was speaking the day after IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi International) operated its first flight from Bengaluru International to the newly constructed Shivamogga Airport, also called Kuvempu. The airport was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February, and as ch-aviation previously reported, the IndiGo route within Karnataka state is being operated under India’s regional airport development programme Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN). Patil said that if regional connectivity can be improved in this way, then the state having its own airline is also not impossible.

“Our interest is Karnataka’s connectivity. We are looking to connect Mysore with Bengaluru, Bengaluru with Gulbarga, Mangalore Bajpe with Bengaluru, and other such regional connectivity by leveraging the benefits under UDAN,” he said.

The minister said he had already received an offer of collaboration from a former executive of Air India (AI, Delhi International) who is ready to chart out the possible investments and requirements if Karnataka goes ahead with its plan.

According to Patil, the idea was born out of the government’s decision to start maintaining airports on its own. It will form a new Karnataka Airports and Airlines Authority for the purpose. He elaborated: “Shivamogga is the first airport that will be managed by the state government. The upcoming airports at Vijayapura, Raichur, Ballari, Karwar, and Hassan will also be managed by the state. Earlier we allowed the Airports Authority of India to run them, with no benefit to us.”

The government is also looking at launching four more new airstrips and heliports including at Chikmagalur, Dharmasthala, Hampi, and Kodagu, he added.

Karnataka is the eighth-largest state in India by population and the sixth-largest by area. It is bordered by the Lakshadweep Sea to the west, Goa and Maharashtra to the north, and Kerala to the south. According to, the estimated population of Karnataka in 2023 is 69,599,762.

All of Karnataka’s scheduled, charter, and cargo airlines are based in Bangalore, the state’s capital, except Star Air, the ch-aviation fleets module shows. Star Air operates an Embraer-only fleet of two leased ERJ 170-200LRs (with two more of the type to be delivered), four owned EMB-145LRs, and one owned EMB-145LI.