Gopinath set to fly with new wings

In Talks with Three Foreign Low-Cost Carriers has applied for Licence Mr Saurabh Sinha Exactly a decade after he launched India’s first low-cost carrier (LCC) Air Deccan and five years after he was forced to sell it off, Captain G R Gopinath is all set to make a comeback with a start up. Three foreign LCCs are learnt to have approached him to take up to 49% stake in the proposed new venture for which he has already applied to the aviation ministry to get a licence.  The non-compete agreement Capt. Gopinath signed while selling Deccan to Dr Vijay Mallya’s now-grounded Kingfisher in 2007 ends on January 28, 2013. Capt. Gopinath told that he will finalize the partner in two to three months and hopes to launch the airline by mid-2013.  The past three to four years have not seen any new airlines and only witnessed Air Deccan, MDLR, Paramount and Kingfisher either shutting down or losing their identity. These closures have triggered a drop in capacity and hiking of fares by the surviving airlines. This has led to India now witnessing the sharpest fall in domestic air travel globally.  “I decided to start an airline as I can’t afford the airfares now. Some airlines have grown but they have done so by taking passengers of other players. The domestic air market is falling rapidly and this is unimaginable in a country like India. A new LCC that offers low fares with low costs is the only way to make flying affordable again and grow the market. I will do that,” said the pioneer of low cost flying in India, adding that he is regularly approached by the general public to start a new airline as low fare flying in India has become history now.  Capt. Gopinath, who has not had too much commercial success with his charter and cargo business, promises not to repeat the mistakes of Air Deccan, while taking forward its successful points in the new venture. This time commercial viability is on his mind as much as offering low fares.  “When I launched Air Deccan in 2003, everything was a challenge and was being done for the first time. I have learnt a lot from that experience and decided on many things differently from the past,” Capt. Gopinath said. Air Deccan had a very large network. Because of that, poor on-time performance and substantial flight cancellations started affecting its image from 2005-06 onwards. “I got stretched too thin then. Deccan aircraft would be parked in different cities and any one developing a snag would take long. This time, we will have a hub for our aircraft for better engineering and servicing,” the 61-year old said.


Source: Times of India

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