Air Costa today temporarily suspended its operations, becoming the second regional airline in less than eight months to abruptly stop services after Air Pegasus. At the same time, Air Pegasus is unlikely to resume services from tomorrow as announced in January when new investors were roped in. Facing financial issues with the lessors, Air Costa has decided to ground its two leased aircraft, Embraer E190, which can seat over 100 passengers. The airline has only these two planes in its fleet.
Rival Air Pegasus too had to shut operations for similar reason in July 2016. “We have taken a two-day halt in our operations because of the financial issues with the lessors. We have been trying to raise funds for the past three months and we are waiting for the same by Thursday,” Air Costa spokesperson Kavi Churasia told PTI.
Prior to suspending its flight services, Air Costa had been operating 16 flights per day to eight destinations. “The talks with one of the investors are at a very advanced stage. This is temporary halt, starting from today. We are trying to resolve the issue,” Churasia said.
However, he emphasised that the two planes have only been “grounded” and not taken away by the lessor. Air Pegasus, which has been grounded since July last year, is unlikely to restart services again from tomorrow as the new investors are still carrying out their “due diligence”. Last month, Bengaluru-based airline group Flyeasy had announced acquiring up to 74 per cent stake in Air Pegasus in a deal worth Rs 86 crore.
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“I can’t comment anything now as due diligence is going on,” Flyeasy group CEO Rajesh Ebrahim said in response to a query on whether Air Pegasus would start flying again from tomorrow. As the operations of two regional carriers remained suspended, it has raised concerns about the overall viability of airlines focused on regional services amid the government pursuing the ambitious regional connectivity scheme.