India's newest airline Akasa Air plans to place a large aircraft order which will be in three digits by the end of this year.

Akasa Air chief executive Vinay Dube said the airline is looking to start international flights by the end of this year and will hire 300 pilots in the next 12 months.

"By the end of the year we will place a large order for aircraft. I'm not going to disclose the number but the order will be in three digits and it will be significant," Dube said at a press conference.

"No airline in the history of global aviation in 150 years has seen this rate of growth," he added.

The low-cost carrier will also set up a learning academy in Bengaluru.

India's aviation industry is expected to be back in black next fiscal for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. The industry is also likely to pare its net loss by 75-80% year-on-year to ₹3,500-4,500 crore this fiscal, compared with around ₹17,500 crore last fiscal, according to CRISIL Ratings.

Strong recovery in passenger traffic and easing cost pressures are supporting this turnaround in operating performance of airlines, the ratings agency says. Domestic and international passenger traffic recovered to 90% and 98%, respectively, in the nine months through December this fiscal, compared with the corresponding period of fiscal 2020.

"Business and leisure travel rebounded strongly, even as international scheduled services resumed. The festival season has accelerated recovery in the second half. This pace is likely to be maintained next fiscal, as the Indian economy remains resilient in the face of global headwinds," CRISIL says, adding that the removal of fare caps is also helping airlines pass on cost increases.

"Next fiscal, we expect passenger traffic to cross the pre-pandemic level and pricing to remain higher by 20-25% over those levels. Consequently, airlines are expected to clock 25-30% revenue growth next fiscal vis-à-vis pre-pandemic. That, along with expected moderation in average aviation turbine fuel prices will drive a significant turnaround in operational performance of airlines, enabling them to become profitable next fiscal," says Gautam Shahi, director, CRISIL Ratings.

The aviation sector is also likely to raise equity of ₹8,000-10,000 crore over the next two financial years, which will be utilised towards increasing fleet size and revamping the existing fleet, the ratings firm says.

In February, Air India placed the biggest aircraft order ever to buy 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus for a total value of $80 billion, with options for another 370 aircraft. The Tata Group-owned airline will buy 250 aircraft from Airbus — 40 wide-body A350 planes and 210 narrow-body aircraft. It will also purchase 220 Boeing planes for $34 billion.

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