Barely a week after the New York-based investment firm Interups bought a 49% stake in TruJet (2T, Hyderabad Int'l), the regional carrier is reportedly in talks with both Airbus and Embraer to acquire fifty-four A220s and fifty-four E190-E2s, orders that are expected to be finalised by the end of May.

Laxmi Prasad, the chairman of Interups, which claims to manage assets worth USD10 billion in the US, told the Indian online business news site Moneycontrol that the airline aims to expand its network across India and overseas while also venturing into other segments as part of what he claimed was a USD1.9 billion plan for the airline.

“We plan to expand services to the length and breadth of the country, overseas, and get into segments such as cargo, private charters, and helicopter ambulance services. We will be operating at full scale,” he said.

“We had set aside USD1.89 billion for the planned investment in Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l). That is not happening now. We would like to put that money into this investment. This will be over the next three years,” he elaborated.

The fleet expansion would propel Trujet to compete with airlines such as AirAsia India, GoAir, and Vistara. According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced and ch-aviation capacities modules, the Hyderabad Int'l-based carrier currently operates just seven aircraft with an average age of 9.6 years - five ATR72-500s and two ATR72-600s - on a network of 23 Indian domestic routes, many of them Tier-II cities under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)/Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN), the Indian government’s regional air connectivity development scheme.

In February 2021, Trujet had a market share in India of 0.6%, down from 0.7% for the same month the previous year.

“Embraer will supply three aircraft every two months. The arrangement with Airbus will see one aircraft coming in every 1.5 months, or a maximum of nine planes a year. So, it may take about six years for the Airbus order to be delivered, lower for Embraer,” Prasad explained.

Asked by ch-aviation to elaborate on the two expected orders and the decision to go with a split fleet, Prasad said: “We are expecting to finalise the order placement within the next 45 days. Our choice to split the requirement is for core strategic reasons and with due apologies I cannot disclose our decision matrix on this.”

He told Moneycontrol that “Airbus and Embraer have already identified some aircraft. And with the addition of these, it will take us to [a fleet of] 21 almost immediately.”

According to rules imposed on the aviation sector, Indian carriers must have at least 20 aircraft in the fleet before launching international operations.

Prasad said that “we will be fully involved in the management” of Trujet and that he was in the process of appointing a former chief executive “and a previous tech head” of Indian Airlines, which merged into Air India in 2007. He also projected that his plan would see Hyderabad emerge as a significant hub, adding: “I have an emotional connect with Hyderabad, as this is where I grew up.”