Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Starting an airline during COVID-19 may sound like a bad idea. But for Flybig, it's a perfect flightplan

COVID-19 has been like a death knell for airlines. Scores of them, around the world, have filed for bankruptcy.
But what if COVID-19 is also a good time to start an airline? Sanjay Mandavia thinks so. The pilot-turned aviation entrepreneur is going ahead with his plans to launch airline Flybig.

While the original plan was for the regional airline to start operations in April, it got delayed because of the COVID-19 disruption and the ensuing lockdown. The new launch date is in October this year.

"The process to get Air Operator's Certificate, or AoC is in the final document stage. The DGCA, the aviation regulator, and the Civil Aviation Ministry have been helpful. We hope to start operations in October," Flybig CEO Srinivas Rao told Moneycontrol.

The airline's first aircraft, an ATR, is at present parked in Australia and will fly to India in September. One more aircraft is in the works. "We plan to start operations with two aircraft, and eventually expand it to a fleet of about 20 aircraft. We will be headquartered out of Indore," said Rao, a former pilot who was also part of the senior management at Kingfisher Airlines. He later worked in Eithad, where he was last Instructor Trainer.

For Mandavia, Flybig is a critical part in his aviation ambitions. The other part is that of Jet Airways, which is going through insolvency proceedings. Mandavia's two firms - Flight Simulation Technique Centre (FSTC) and Big Charter - have joined hands with Dubai-based investment banking and wealth management provider Imperial Capital Investments, to bid for Jet Airways.

At present, Jet Airways bankers are evaluating bids presented by the consortium, and the other party in the race, a team consisting of Kalrock Capital Partners, a UK-based financial services firm,  and entrepreneur Murari Lal Jalan.
26/08/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/
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