Akasa Air has received its no-objection certificate from India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, has hired more veterans from defunct carrier Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai Int'l), and is now in talks with Boeing (BOE, Chicago O'Hare) to acquire up to one hundred B737 MAX aircraft, local media reported.

The start-up low-cost carrier, backed by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, has also approached the Indian government to recertify the grounded aircraft type, Business Standard reported.

Boeing conducted its first test flight to recertify the MAX in China on August 11, but it remains grounded in many countries, including India, after two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019 claimed 346 lives.

“The company in its discussions with regulators has said it has made significant progress in negotiations with Boeing to acquire the 737 MAX and intends to start operations by early 2022. For that purpose, the government needs to recertify the aircraft,” a source told the newspaper.

Each MAX has a list price of around USD100 million, but they are often sold at discounts of less than half of their market value, the source claimed.

In July, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation allowed Boeing to fly the MAX through Indian airspace but not to land, and the Hindu Business Line reported at the time that the authority remained unconvinced about the aircraft type’s safety.

Jhunjhunwala told Bloomberg in an interview on July 28 that the start-up planned to operate 70 aircraft within four years and confirmed that he was considering investing USD35 million in the airline.

Besides former Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube now in position as Akasa Air’s chief executive and ex-IndiGo Airlines president Aditya Ghosh as a board member, a source told Moneycontrol that former Jet Airways and GoAir exec Praveen Iyer would be chief commercial officer and former GoAir revenue management chief Anand Srinivasan its chief information officer.

Jet Airways veteran Belson Coutinho will head marketing; another ex-Jet Airways manager Bhavin Joshi will be senior vice president for finance and leasing; and one more, Neelu Khatri, will head government affairs, the unnamed source said. Other Jet Airways alumni reportedly hired at Akasa include Adam Voss to head engineering, Ajit Baghchandani to helm inflight services, and Floyd Gracious to oversee flight operations.