Akasa Air continues to mourn Rakesh Jhunjhunwala but his passing will not affect its operations or growth, India’s newest airline’s chief executive officer and co-founder Vinay Dube said on August 17.
Billionaire investor Jhunjhunwala, the biggest investor in the low-cost airline, passed away on August 14, exactly a week after Akasa launched its operations with a Mumbai-Ahmedabad flight.
"Yesterday (August 16) we received our third aircraft in Delhi, which will be put into operation on the Mumbai-Bengaluru sector shortly. We will continue to grow our fleet by adding one new aircraft every two weeks," Dube said in a release to the media.
Jhunjhunwala’s family holds around 45 percent stake in the airline through three trusts named after his children Nishtha, Aryaman, and Aryavir.
Dube, a former CEO of Jet Airways, said Akasa Air was well capitalised with the financial means to induct 72 aircraft over the next five years.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Akasa was looking to come out with a second order for aircraft over the next 18 months which would be significantly larger than the first order, he said.
Dube reassured the shareholders that despite the untimely demise of Jhunjhunwala, Akasa Air had a top-notch leadership team that would make all day-to-day decisions without having to fall back on any investor.
In this last interview, Jhunjhunwala had said that Akasa Air was a frugal airline and would be very competitive in the aviation space
"Our competitors are ordering new chairs in response to Akasa's chair," Jhunjhunwala told CNBC TV-18.
Akasa would be competing with the likes of IndiGo and SpiceJet for a share of India’s fast-growing domestic air travel market, he said.
There will be a lot more flying as discretionary spending per capita goes up, he added. Jhunjhunwala also cited civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia's prediction that India would reach 40 crore air travellers over the next four years.
He said India's aircraft requirement will almost double by 2027 and the country would need 1,200 aircraft.Speaking about the challenges in the aviation sector, Jhunjhunwala said he was "prepared for Akasa Air to even fail, but better to have tried and failed than not tried at all".