New entrant Akasa Air is financially strong enough to place an aircraft order in the 18 next months that will be significantly larger than its first, its founder and CEO Vinay Dube said on Wednesday.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala - who along with his family held around a 45 per cent stake in Akasa Air - passed away on Sunday morning. The airline on November 26 last year signed its first aircraft deal with Boeing to purchase 72 Max planes.
"Thanks in no small part to Mr. Jhunjhunwala, for which we will always be grateful, Akasa Air is a well-capitalised airline with the financial means to induct 72 aircraft over the next five years," Dube said in his statement.
The airline has received three of the aforementioned 72 aircraft till date.
"We will continue to grow our fleet by adding one new aircraft every two weeks. While these are gratifying moments in our journey, we at Akasa Air continue to mourn the passing of Mr. Jhunjhunwala," Dube said.
For those at Akasa who got to know him and whose lives he has touched, this is a deep personal loss, the CEO mentioned.
Stating that the airline's growth is secure, Dube asserted, "In fact, our financial platform is strong enough to allow Akasa to place an aircraft order in the next 18 months that will be significantly larger than our first." The low-cost carrier started its flights on August 7 when it operated on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. Jhunjhunwala was also present on the inaugural flight.
"We are also thankful that Mr. Jhunjhunwala supported us in recruiting some of the best aviation talent in the country. He wanted us to have a top-notch leadership team that made all day-to-day decisions at the airline without having to fall back on him or any other investor," Dube mentioned.
Anyone that saw him on the inaugural flight on August 7 knows how proud he was of each Akasa employee and partner, the CEO noted.
"On our part, we couldn't be prouder and more fortunate to have known him," he added.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala recognised India's potential as one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world with an unparalleled potential and decades of progress ahead of us, he said.
"He was a true believer in India's potential and saw Akasa Air serving our nation by building the transportation links that will support India's ongoing economic transformation," the CEO noted.
Akasa Air will honour Rakesh Jhunjhunwala's legacy, values, and belief in it by striving to run an extraordinary airline, he said.