Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Sanjay Mandavia may not have got Jet Airways, but his Flybig is set to take off this month

Sanjay Mandavia, who was in the race to acquire Jet Airways, may not have realised one part of his aviation dream. However, the second part, is set to take off.

His Flybig plans to start operations before the end of the year. "We got the Air Operator's Certificate from industry regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) on December 14," Mandavia told Moneycontrol.

The airline is the second after AirTaxi, which also plans to start services in 2020 itself, that got the Certificate to start operations this month.

Giving details, Flybig CEO Srinivas Rao said the airline is at present finalising regulatory approvals to be able to "fly in two weeks with full preparedness".

Interestingly, the airline has already began operations without launching its own maiden flight. On December 21, it operated a chartered flight with the aircraft taken on wet lease from SpiceJet. The airline flew from Delhi to Shillong, to coincide with the Meghalaya government's step to open up the state for tourism as domestic travel recovers gradually from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have won the tender from the state government to operate the Delhi-Shillong flight for three years," said Rao. From January, the company will operate two weekly flights on the route. Eventually, added the senior executive, the company plans to deploy its own aircraft on the route.

Flybig will start off with Indore as its hub and flights to Bhopal and Ahmedabad. It will add Jabalpur in its network in the second stage, with plans to do so in January.

In the Indore-Ahmedabad route, it will have to contend with the big daddy of Indian aviation, IndiGo, which also operates flights between the two cities.

"Depending on how the COVID-19 (pandemic) pans out, we hope to bring our second aircraft in January," said Rao. Like the first one, the second aircraft too will be an ATR that will be brought from Australia.

22/12/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/Moneycontrol.com

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