Air Costa is at “advanced stages” of discussions with foreign carriers, including those from the Gulf, for a possible stake sale, as the Vijayawada-based airline seeks to spread its wings after securing flying permit for pan-India operations.
The carrier, which received pan-India licence from aviation regulator DGCA this week, is also in the process of sealing a deal for leasing of six more aircraft from GE Capital Aviation Services of Singapore, which is expected to be in place by this month, its CEO Vivek Choudhary said.
Currently, the airline operates from eight airports, mainly in southern India, as a regional carrier with a fleet of three Embraer 190 aircraft.
On Monday, it secured pan-India operator permit from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), putting it in the league of budget carriers such as SpiceJet, IndiGo, GoAir and AirAsia India.
“We are in talks for (stake sale), which are at advanced stages, with carriers from the Gulf and an airline from South-East Asia,” Choudhary told PTI in an interview over phone from Vijayawada.
He said the quantum of stake to be diluted has not yet been decided, adding that “that is under discussions”.
The top Air Costa official said securing a national flying permit will “boost the airline’s prospects of taking a foreign partner on board” and sounded confident of “coming to conclusion” in forging a partnership soon.
According to Choudhary, the airline expects to start pan-India operations from the first quarter of 2017-18. To begin with, the airline is looking to connect smaller cities such as Vijayawada, Tirupati and Visakhapatnam with Delhi.
“We will also be providing air connectivity to such cities from Mumbai, going forward, under our all India operations,” he said.
On the fleet induction, Choudhary said Air Costa will be inducting a fourth Embraer this month. The airline has an LoI (Letter of Intent) for leasing of six more aircraft and it was likely to ink a pact with GE Capital Aviation Services this month.
“We have an LoI on the table for leasing of six aircraft at this moment, which hopefully we should be able to formalise by this month. The delivery of these planes will commence from January next year,” he said.
Air Costa aims to have a total of 10 E190 planes in its fleet by December 2017.
“We will be inducting one aircraft every two months between January and December next year,” Choudhary said.