Vijayawada-based Lingamaneni Estates and Projects Ltd (LEPL), promoter of regional airline — Air Costa — on Tuesday said it will commence operations from October, 14.
The airline will fly to two destinations namely Bangalore and Chennai and the fares are expected to be competitively priced upwards of Rs 3,000.
The announcement comes at a time when Vijayawada, the airline’s headquarters, is under fire, thanks to the political turmoil over bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
“It’s a conscious decision to fly at times like this when the aviation sector is under stress. But we do believe the market has growth potential,” said Ramesh Lingamaneni, MD, LEPL.
LEPL, with maintenance base in Chennai, has earmarked $100 million to expand operations over the next few quarters. It has invested Rs 150 crore so far.
The budget carrier, which has two Embraer E-170 jets (with a seating capacity of 67 each) in possession currently, is planning to add two more E-190 jets next month, 10 E-190 jets by end of 2014 and 25 jets by 2018. Initially, the airline will connect cities including Bangalore, Chennai, Vijayawada, Ahmedabad and Jaipur. Subsequently, it is slated to expand to Pune, Visakhapatnam, Goa, Mysore and Trivandrum.
In the next two years, the company has chalked out plans to set up a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Gangavaram airport exclusively for Embrarer jets.
According to Air Costa, domestic air traffic is growing at a CAGR of 20 per cent and is projected to have 70 million passengers by 2014.
Besides aviation, LEPL is into urban infrastructure, renewable energy, hospitality, education and entertainment.