Regional airline FLY91 will commence operations from Mopa airport in Goa to Bengaluru on March 18.

This will be followed by a flight from Goa to Hyderabad on March 19. Flights between Goa and Agatti in Lakshadweep will begin in April. Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia flagged off a ceremonial flight on Tuesday.

The Lakshadweep islands, which came into the spotlight with Prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit in January, has air connectivity with Kochi only. While Alliance Air has ten weekly flights, IndiGo plans to start six weekly services from Kochi to Lakshadweep in the summer schedule. 

Focus on locals

Goa-headquartered FLY91 will have six ATR-72 aircraft, connecting 8-10 cities in the first year of operations.

Over the next five years it will have 35 aircraft covering 50 cities.

FLY91 Managing Director and CEO Manoj Chacko said the airline will cater to the needs of both tourists and locals, as against all other airlines, which have schedules that cater to tourists and not so much the locals, Chacko said. The airline will have a strong digital focus and all customers will be issued boarding passes immediately on booking.

‘Well funded’

FLY91 is backed by private equity firm Convergent Finance; veteran investor Ramesh Damani is among its investors.

“We are well capitalised and have raised $25 million. We are not looking to raise any funds at the moment. We have 200 employees and will recruit 25 employees for every additional aircraft,” Chacko said. 

“FLY91 is not a me-too airline and is addressing niche regional markets. As Indian economy grows it will have a first-mover advantage,” Damani said. He added that airlines now have pricing power and have even begun charging a la carte pricing for products and services, which can help offset cost pressures.

“Our focus is on bringing last-mile connectivity and serving unserved routes,” Chacko said. 

He said the airline has a cost advantage over competition because the ATR-72 aircraft’s fuel burn is lower than that of Airbus or Boeing aircraft. Pilot hiring will not be a challenge for us, he added.