Air Carnival sees no air pockets, to launch by April

At a time when biggies like SpiceJet are bleeding, a Coimbatore-based start-up airline has its flight plan charted out. Air Carnival…

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At a time when biggies like SpiceJet are bleeding, a Coimbatore-based start-up airline has its flight plan charted out. Air Carnival, which got a no-objection certificate from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in June for the southern region, is aiming at a launch by March-April 2015.

In an exclusive interview with FE, Manish Kumar Singh, CEO, Air Carnival, said that despite the turbulence in the aviation industry, their plan was intact and on course. “Our project stands good for a March-April commencement. I don’t see any challenge, rather we foresee potential growth in the aviation sector. Our focus is towards micro-management, small route operation, and on-time and customer-friendly services,” said Singh. The company plans to start operations with two ATR 72-500 aircraft and aims to have a fleet of five planes by the end of 2015.

Air Carnival, which says it is close to clinching its aircraft deal, is already an established player in air charter services. The company was founded in 2013 in New Delhi by SI Nathan, chairman of the CMC Group of Institutions whose colleges offer marine and aeronautical professional courses in southern India. The charter airline is also a key player in air ambulance services.

“We are very close to securing our aircraft deal and are expecting it in the next few weeks. Our set-up for engineering, commercial, security and operations is under progress at different operating locations and is expected to be completed well in time and prior to induction of the aircraft,” said Singh. The airline’s operating base will be in Coimbatore and it plans to provide point-to-point connectivity in southern India.

“We have identified virgin routes as well, in addition to conventional ones,” he said. “We have been granted initial NOC for regional scheduled airline in south India. We will connect tier-1, tier-2 as well as tier-3 cities to provide better connectivity in remote areas,” Singh said. “Passenger growth is good in spite of the bad phase in the industry. The government is cutting taxes on fuel, fuel prices are dipping and lessors are looking towards India as prospective market — I take all this as a good sign for starting up,” he said. Asked whether the company is looking at a foreign airline partner or PE investor, Singh said that there were no such plans as of now.

On how the business model will be different from other airlines, most of which are loss-making, Singh said: “Our main focus will be towards un-served and poorly served sector to enhance air connectivity through the entire southern region.”

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