While Indian flyers are already spoilt for choice thanks to the large number of carriers that operate in the aviation industry, travellers now have one more option. Budget carrier Air Deccan restarted operations on December 22, after getting aviation regulator DGCA's nod and received a warm welcome from flyers.
The airline was founded by GR Gopinath in 2003, and while its first flight did not really bring out the desired results, it changed the entire landscape of the aviation industry. And flyers evidently remember this change as they were quick to book tickets on the airline. In tune, tickets on the first route – Mumbai to Nashik – booked out in minutes and all seats on this route until December 29 have been sold out.
While flyers may find a ticket on December 30 and 31, the new year seems to have come early for Air Deccan as the flight on January 1 is booked out as well. After that, flyers will have to shell about Rs 3,000 for a round trip.
Air Deccan has restarted its operations under the regional connectivity scheme called Udan, which aims to connect smaller towns for about Rs 2,500 for a one-hour journey. It landed the license to fly in 34 routes in the first round of bidding and the founder is clearly thrilled about restarting the operations. "This will be my last Udan and then I will hang up my boots," Gopinath told Mint. The well-known budget carrier will retain its tagline "Simplify," and carry a logo by late cartoonist RK Laxman.
Air Deccan had merged with Kingfisher Airlines in 2008, but the carrier owned by Vijay Mallya was grounded due to financial woes and Air Deccan too went down with it. Now Air Deccan is set to make a grand re-entry with bases in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Shillong and will fly on shorter routes close to these locations.
Gopinath also told Mint that some customers will be able to fly for Re. 1, a concept that came up because of Air Deccan. "Some of the initial lucky people will be able to get Re1 fares also," Gopinath said. And even if you are not able to get your hands on these fares, you will not have to shell out massive amounts as Air Deccan estimates tickets to be priced at about Rs 1,400 for a 40-minute flight.
In 2018, Gopinath plans to expand its reach to cities such as Shimla, Kullu, Agra, Dehradun, Pantnagar and Ludhiana.
Apart from these cities, the carrier will also spread its wings to the eastern zone with two planes in Kolkata that will connect the city with Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Durgapur, Bagdogra, Cooch Behar, and Agartala. The flights from Shillong will connect Imphal, Dimapur, Aizawl and Agartala.