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Billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala plans 70 planes for new airline

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In his hope more people will travel by air, billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala plans to have 70 aircraft for his new airline in India within four years.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television Wednesday, Jhunjhunwala said he expects to receive a certificate from the aviation ministry in the next 15 days approving his $35 million investment and 40% stake in the carrier. They are will be called Akasa Air,, and their team will be including a former senior executive of Delta Airlines. They plan on buying planes that carry 180 passengers, he said.

Jhunjhunwala, who’s known locally as India’s Warren Buffett, is betting big on a market that’s seen some airlines crash due to intense fare wars and high costs. However, what was once the fastest-growing aviation market in the world still beckons, and Jhunjhunwala is looking for ways to woo flyers with a brand new airline offering low fares.

“For the culture of a company to be frugal,, you’ve to start fresh,” Jhunjhunwala said. “I’m very, very bullish on India’s aviation sector in terms of demand.”

In India, airlines were already struggling before the pandemic. Kingsfisher Airlines Ltd., once the country’s second-largest domestic carrier, ceased operations in 2012, and Jet Airways India Ltd., which was recently approved to fly again, collapsed in 2019.

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Globally, demand for air travel has been hit hard, but India’s aviation industry faces a greater risk of delayed recovery as a third wave of infections looms. The impact is being felt by airlines.

Vistra, which is jointly owned by Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Tata Group, is in talks with Boeing Co. and Airbus SE over delays of aircraft deliveries and payment schedule changes. IndiGo, India’s largest airline, reported a wider loss than expected due to disruptions caused by Covid.

But that doesn’t deter Jhunjhunwala, who,, according to Forbes,, has an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion.

In some cases, he said, incremental players will never recover. “I have some of the best airline people in the world as my partners.”

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