Air India, Akasa, and the emerging new order in Indian aviation – The Ken

(This column first appeared in The Ken on October 11, 2021)

  • If two’s company, and three’s a crowd—six, seven, and eight are a veritable stampede. Especially in Indian aviation, which has witnessed many rough jostles and shakeouts. The sector, true to form, has made millionaires out of billionaires like Vijay Mallya and Naresh Goyal over the years. Yet, it continues to lure players. Last week, the Tata Group finally won the bid for state-owned carrier Air India. If the airline’s operations are eventually integrated with either of the existing Tata Group airlines—Vistara or AirAsia India—or if all three airlines merge, as is also being speculated, the number of carriers in the country could come down to four or five. But that’s not counting the nearly half a dozen small and regional players such as TruJet and Star Air. Then, there are the two ambitious new players waiting in the wings—Jet Airways, reborn after the bankruptcy process, and Akasa, promoted by deep-pocketed investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. Whichever way you dice it, Indian skies will see their fair share of big birds over the next year. The tough prevailing market conditions, though, could still clip some wings…

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