Sanjay Mandavia May Not Have Got Jet Airways, But His Flybig Is Set To Take Off This MonthPage Visited: 12
Snajay Mandavia’s Flybig plans to start operations before the end of the year.
Sanjay Mandavia, who was in the race to acquire Jet Airways, may not have realised one part of his aviation dream. However, the second part, is set to take off.
His Flybig plans to start operations before the end of the year. “We got the Air Operator’s Certificate from industry regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) on December 14,” Mandavia told Moneycontrol.
The airline is the second after AirTaxi, which also plans to start services in 2020 itself, that got the Certificate to start operations this month.
Giving details, Flybig CEO Srinivas Rao said the airline is at present finalising regulatory approvals to be able to “fly in two weeks with full preparedness”.
Interestingly, the airline has already began operations without launching its own maiden flight. On December 21, it operated a chartered flight with the aircraft taken on wet lease from SpiceJet. The airline flew from Delhi to Shillong, to coincide with the Meghalaya government’s step to open up the state for tourism as domestic travel recovers gradually from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have won the tender from the state government to operate the Delhi-Shillong flight for three years,” said Rao. From January, the company will operate two weekly flights on the route. Eventually, added the senior executive, the company plans to deploy its own aircraft on the route.
Flybig will start off with Indore as its hub and flights to Bhopal and Ahmedabad. It will add Jabalpur in its network in the second stage, with plans to do so in January.
In the Indore-Ahmedabad route, it will have to contend with the big daddy of Indian aviation, IndiGo, which also operates flights between the two cities.
“Depending on how the COVID-19 (pandemic) pans out, we hope to bring our second aircraft in January,” said Rao. Like the first one, the second aircraft too will be an ATR that will be brought from Australia.
The airline’s second focus will be on the North-East market. Apart from the Delhi-Shillong route, Flybig will operate between the states in the region. “Our base will be Guawahati. We will fly to Imphal, Aizwal, and Tezpur,” said Rao.
In all its network, the airline plans to do a mix of commercial and UDAN flights, which is subsidised by the government to promote regional connectivity.
Just like in the chartered flights to Shillong, for the commercial too, Flybig will start off with two to three flights a week. While the launch route is yet to be finalised, Rao said the plan is to be “conservative and give a rock solid start. We can later scale up”.
The airline will follow a hybrid model, by serving snacks on board, but un-bundling other services. “We don’t want to sell food on-board as the flying time is less. That will prevent us from giving a proper service and could lead to frustration among fliers. Thus we opted to offer snacks as part of the ticket,” he said.
Post the launch, the airline will look to serve tier 3 cities such as Bilaspur and Satna from Bhopal. “We plan to bring in 19-seater Dornier aircraft,” said Rao.
Flybig is in talks with HAL to buy four Dornier aircraft that can be also turned into cargo carrier or an air ambulance, as per the needs.