History Of India’s Private Airlines – Take-Offs And Crash Landings
CHENNAI, (IANS) – NEPC Airlines, Damania Airways, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Deccan Aviation, and Paramount Airways have one thing in common. These airlines and several others took off fast only to crash land or get bought out by others.
Well, the annals of the Indian private airline industry are dotted with many airways taking off and crash landing with some continuing to fly.
The list of failed airlines in India is quite long – full service or low-cost – and the major reason was a financial crunch due to various factors. Many of these airlines were promoted by well-known industrialists/industrial groups.
The latest airline that finds itself in turbulent financial weather is Go Airline.
With nearly 50 percent of its A320neo fleet grounded, India’s third-largest airline has approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for resolution under the Insolvency Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
According to Go Airlines, it has been forced to apply to the NCLT after Pratt & Whitney, is not supplying it with spare engines.
The airline is doing this despite the infusion of Rs 3,200 crore by the promoters into the airline in the last three years, of which Rs 2,400 crore was injected in the last 24 months and Rs 290 crore in April 2023 alone. The airline has also received significant support from the Government of India.
Be that as it may, many of these airlines that took off and took over or crash-landed were promoted by well-known industrialists/industrial groups.
For instance, Kingfisher Airlines was promoted by Vijay Mallya and NEPC Airline was floated by the Chennai-based NEPC Group which had raked in huge money from selling wind turbines. The NEPC group also ventured into pharma, textiles, and other sectors.
One of the earliest private airlines that ventured into business after the Indian government deregulated the sector was ModiLuft in 1993 by S.K. Modi in technical partnership with Lufthansa, Germany.
ModiLuft was among the first of India’s first post-deregulation airlines, launched in April 1993 by industrialist S.K. Modi in technical partnership with the German flag carrier Lufthansa. The two companies later fell out and the airline got grounded while its Air Operators Certificate was acquired by SpiceJet.
Interestingly, SpiceJet ownership too changed hands from its original promoter Ajay Singh to media baron Kalanidhi Maran and again to Singh.
The other notable airline and low-cost pioneer was Deccan Aviation promoted by G.R. Gopinath. The airline was later merged with Kingfisher Airlines which in turn ran up huge losses, and debt and shut shops in 2012.
Similarly, founded in 1993, Jet Airways grew to become one of India’s largest airlines. But price competition from new players resulted in Jet Airways making losses before finally stopping operations in 2019.