Air Costa resumes flight operations after resolving trouble with lessors

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Mumbai: Air Costa, a regional airline that operates in south India, on Friday said it has resumed its flight operations with nine flights. The airline will continue to operate 24 daily flights from Saturday as scheduled.

On Thursday, Air Costa had cancelled all its flights, citing problems with its aircraft lessors.

“We had to cancel our flights for a day due to an issue with our lessor and that has been resolved now. We also made sure that booked passengers should not be affected by this. Now we are back in operations resuming the first flight by 2:35pm and subsequently from Saturday full operations with 24 scheduled flights,” said Vivek Choudhary, chief executive officer, Air Costa.

“We have also taken necessary measures so that such sudden suspension shall not happen in future. We are focusing on inducting more aircraft in the fleet and eyeing on getting pan-India licence for larger reach and connectivity. We have aggressive expansion plans and it will prevail,” said Choudhary.

The airline, promoted by Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh-based construction firm LEPL Group, has plans to fly to New Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Varanasi and Pune soon.

It currently operates 24 daily flights in six states, connecting nine cities—Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Tirupati, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada.

Last month, regional airline Air Pegasus, another south India-based airline, had cancelled its flights, triggering concerns over the financial viability of regional carriers.

Even as the government is optimistic that the new civil aviation policy cleared on 15 July will boost regional connectivity and take flying to the masses, experts believe it’s a tall order as any new airline may not be able to make a profit overnight. They will need to create a network and feed for making money from the potential new market.

Also Read: Air Costa cancels all flights after trouble with lessors

To be sure, instances of regional airlines being grounded are aplenty.

On 31 March 2013, Mint reported that Religare Voyages Ltd, which runs Air Mantra, stopped operations eight months after launch because of poor bookings. Religare Voyages was promoted by brothers Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh. Air Mantra started operations in July 2012 with daily flights connecting Amritsar and Chandigarh. It became the first regional airline to be launched in the country in five years.

MDLR Airlines Pvt. Ltd, the only regional carrier that started operations in 2007, stopped flying on 1 November 2009.

Apart from MDLR Airlines, several firms, including Star Aviation Pvt. Ltd, ZAV Airways Pvt. Ltd, Jagson Airlines Ltd and King Air Pvt. Ltd, were licensed to fly as regional carriers, but none of them could launch because of high jet fuel prices and the economic slowdown of 2008.

Significantly, Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd, a scheduled airline that had a substantial southern focus, suspended operations after the aviation regulator cancelled its operating licence when it fell short of the minimum requirement of five aircraft.

The ministry of civil aviation had introduced the so-called scheduled operator permits for regional airlines in August 2007 to increase air services to smaller cities. Regional airlines are required to operate in small towns within one of the designated regions—north, south, west, east or the north-east. But they are not allowed to connect to more than one major city, except those licensed to fly in the southern region.