Friday, November 25, 2016

Return of the low-cost king: Deccan Charters's Captain Gopinath to enter regional routes

The government’s plan to attract entrepreneurs to regional aviation has drawn a star participant in G R Gopinath, pioneer of low-cost flying in India who is now considering a
comeback in the country’s regional skies.

Deccan Charters, an aviation services company owned by Gopinath, has registered for bidding for regional routes. The government has received 20 registrations from air operator permit holders to participate in the bidding.

“I had never completely left aviation, Deccan Charters has been providing charter services for tourism, medical service and corporate travel. I just want to make it bigger,” Gopinath, now 63, told Business Standard. With four fixed-wing aircraft and 10 helicopters, Deccan Charters provides services to pilgrims in parts of Uttarakhand and chartered aircraft to companies. It has also expanded into the maintenance and repair of aircraft and provides services to corporate houses like Reliance, the Tatas and the Jindals.

Gopinath did not divulge the routes he was interested in but said some of the country’s 900 airstrips provided very good opportunity for making money.

“A mining belt like Bellary has five airfields. Bagdogra is connected to Kolkata but unconnected to Cooch Behar, only 40 minutes away. The tourist circuit of Kulu-Manali-Shimla also holds promise,” he said. “Air Deccan flew between many such cities, which were rendered flightless with its demise.” Air Deccan was, after a financial crunch, taken over by the Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines, which itself was grounded in 2012.
25/11/16 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard

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