Billionaire Indian investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala is reportedly considering plans to invest USD35 million in building a new ultra-low-cost carrier, to be led by a team of aviation professionals including former Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai Int'l) chief executive Vinay Dube, two sources close to the investor told The Economic Times.

The project, tentatively dubbed Akasa Air, Akasa being Bengali for sky, plans to launch flight operations in mid-2022 and has applied to India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation for a no-objection certificate. Once obtained, the start-up would then concentrate on raising funds and drafting a strong business plan that aims for a summer 2022 launch.

Other members of the team appear to include Arvind Srinivasan, who is a former revenue management chief at GoAir (G8, Mumbai Int'l), and former Jet Airways vice president and ex-GoAir chief operating officer Pravin Iyer.

Popularly known as India’s Warren Buffet, Jhunjhunwala has been described as a risk-taking trader who has in past had shown an interest in the airline industry. In December 2014, in a bid to raise desperately needed cash, SpiceJet (SG, Delhi Int'l) sold a 1.4% stake in its shareholding to him for INR130.05 million rupees (USD2.1 million at the time). He has also held a stake of about 1% in Jet Airways.

The sources said that a group led by Dube had held an initial round of discussions with Jhunjhunwala and a foreign investor, who they declined to name. If a deal goes ahead, it would give Jhunjhunwala around a 40% equity holding in the new company.

“There is indeed space for a new, well-run low-fare airline. And remember, this one is being formed by seasoned aviation professionals,” one of the sources said.