By Jatin Grover
India’s newly launched low-cost carrier Akasa Air is putting its pet-friendly foot forward. The airline has announced its pet-friendly policy that will allow passengers to carry their pets along with them on the flight.
At present, only Air India allows its passengers to carry pets along with them. Airlines such as IndiGo, Vistara and AirAsia do not allow pets on flights.
The Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-backed airline would currently allow one pet such as a dog or cat weighing up to 7 kg inside the cabin and up to 32 kg in the cargo compartment. The bookings for the same will start from October 15, and passengers will be allowed to carry their pets along with them on the flight from November 1, the airline said.
At a time when airlines are fighting tariff wars to increase their market share, such consumer-centric initiatives make it convenient for the airlines to tap the market.
Currently, Air India allows a maximum of two animals – pets as checked baggage or service dogs, according to the policy available on the website. The carrier allows pets up to 5 kg in the cabin.
“Maximum of two pets are permitted in the cabin per flight, one in the last row of First/Business class and one in the last row of Economy class along with the accompanying passenger,” Air India said.
Akasa is yet to come out with more details on the policy. It said it is partnering with an NGO called Umeed to get clarity on pet practice and form expert guidelines. The airline would notify the rates for carrying pets inside the flight soon, Belson Coutinho, chief marketing officer of Akasa Air said.
This is the first phase of the policy, we would soon launch an extended version for the same, the airline said.
Akasa Air completed 60 days on Thursday. The newly launched airline is competing with the likes of airline majors such as IndiGo, Spicejet, Air India and GoAir among others.
Currently, the airline is operating six aircraft and by the end of this financial year, it expects to operate 18 aircraft by the end of March 2023. Over the next four years, the airline will add 54 additional aircraft, taking its total fleet size to 72 aircraft.
As of August, Akasa has a passenger load factor of about 53%, according to the data shared by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. In September, the company expects its passenger load factor to increase to nearly 80%.
“We are elated by the response we have received as we welcomed on board more than 100,000 passengers within just 60 days of operations,” Akasa Air co-founder and chief executive officer Vinay Dubey said at a press conference on Thursday.
Akasa Air will also launch its maiden flights from Delhi on October 7, thereby adding eight destinations along its route. The airline targets to operate 300 weekly flights by end of October, up from about 210 a week currently.
During the press conference, the company also said it is not concerned about the higher prices of aviation turbine fuel and will continue with its focus on affordable services to passengers.
“Fuel will go up, fuel will go down, that’s not something we should be worried about, we look at the affordability of airfares in a much longer-term horizon,” Akasa’s co-founder and chief executive officer Vinay Dubey said at a press conference.
Jet fuel prices, which constitute a major chunk of an airline’s operational expense have risen about 53% from January to October. Further, a depreciation of the domestic currency is also weighing on the industry given most of their payments are dollar-denominated.