Three start-ups seek to fly in South India

Three start-ups seek to fly in South India

New Delhi: The ministry of civil aviation has received applications from three start-up firms to start regional airlines, all based in South India.

Kochi-based Emric Air and Chennai-based Air Dravida and Star Aviation are the three that have filed for a regional scheduled airlines operator’s permit that was unveiled last month.

Government policy on regional airlines encourages carriers to connect an Indian metropolis with smaller cities and towns, but does not allow them to operate flights on lucrative routes between large cities. In South India, though, such airlines have been allowed to fly between Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad because of their geographical proximity.

“The permissions are under process," a civil aviation ministry spokesperson said on Thursday, without specifying a time frame when the licences could be granted.

Air traffic growth in the southern region has outpaced other regions in the past few years. All the three new regional airlines are likely to run low-fare operations, according to their presentations made to the government. Air Dravida proposes to use Canadian-made Bombardier CRJ aircraft, while Star Aviation is likely to use an ATR turboprop fleet. Emric Air has not specified its fleet plans.

Bombardier CRJs and ATR turboprops are smaller aircraft with a passenger capacity of about 40 people, or about one-third that of the more popular Airbus A320 or Boeing 737.

There are at least nine applications for scheduled airlines awaiting government approval—some for over a year. But the ministry of civil aviation has abstained from issuing operating licences, given crowded airports on the ground.

Air Dravida and Star Aviation were two of the applicants who have now tweaked their plans to those specified for obtaining regional licences.