Ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala-promoted Akasa Air on Tuesday received the first of its 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. The delivery of Akasa Air’s first aircraft brings the airline closer to obtaining its air operator’s permit (AOP), which is required for it to launch commercial operations in the country.

“Akasa Air, India’s newest and most dependable airline, today, welcomed the arrival of the first of its 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, in the presence of its leadership team. The airline received the ceremonial keys for the aircraft at Seattle, USA on June 15, 2022,” the airline said in a release.

Commenting on the arrival of the aircraft, Vinay Dube, founder, managing director and chief executive officer, Akasa Air says, “The arrival of our first aircraft is a very happy moment for all of us and marks an important milestone, bringing us closer to our vision of building India’s greenest, most dependable, and most affordable airline."

The new player in the Indian aviation sector intends to operate a fleet of 72 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, powered by CFM fuel efficient, LEAP-1B engines, which are to be delivered over the course of five years. It will receive 18 aircraft by March 2023, followed by delivery of the remaining 54 aircraft over the course of the next four years. The 737 MAX family aircraft deliver efficiency in reducing fuel use and carbon emissions, enabling the airline's to run environmentally friendly flight operations.

“We are proud to partner with Akasa Air as they embark on their journey towards making air travel inclusive and affordable for all,” says Salil Gupte, president, Boeing India. “India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and offers enormous growth and productivity opportunities for the aviation industry. We are excited that the advanced 737 MAX will help Akasa Air drive efficiencies in business and operations while providing its customers with a superior flying experience.”

With the first aircraft in its possession, Akasa can soon begin proving flights, mandatory to secure air operator’s permit from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). This permit is an approval granted by the civil aviation regulator to an airline for using its aircraft for commercial purposes, showing that the operator has in place its personnel, aircraft, assets and systems to ensure the safety of its passengers and employees. The carrier plans to start commercial flights this year to support the growing demand across India.

Akasa Air’s new aircraft arrives at a time when India’s aviation market is finally witnessing a good recovery following a long slump because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As per credit ratings agency ICRA, the recovery in domestic passenger traffic has been strong post-Omicron and has reached 98% of pre-Covid levels in April and May 2022.

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