NEW DELHI: Captain G R Gopinath, who founded the Air Deccan and created a revolution of low-cost carriers in India, is all set to re-enter the sector with a proposal before the Aviation Ministry to fly to 21 destinations with a large base in the south.
Gopinath’s company, Deccan Charters Limited, has submitted an application to get into the scheduled aviation business with Airbus 320s and ATR-72s.
The company representatives will be meeting the ministry officials on Thursday to take their application forward with a detailed presentation on their plans.
In its initial proposal, Deccan Charters has named 21 destinations including Mumbai, Delhi, Coimbatore, Madurai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Goa.
However, Gopinath refused to respond to calls from Express for his comments.
Gopinath’s re-foray into the aviation sector has made everyone, who know about the application, nostalgic of the first low-cost carrier that had changed the rules of aviation business in India.
Whether it was promotional gimmicks of `1 tickets or the scrapping of reserved seats, Gopinath had the ‘first mover’ advantage of bringing the middle and lower-middle class into the aviation fold.
While an initial proposal of starting a regional carrier was floated last year, going by the application, it looks like Gopinath is heading for direct competition with other scheduled carriers.
By the end of 2012, Gopinath’s ‘no-compete clause’ with Mallya’s Kingfisher will also come to an end. In his second innings, Gopinath will perhaps face stiff competition from low-cost carriers like Spicejet and Indigo, which have firm business models in place.
“When Gopinath came first, he operated ATRs and none of the big carriers like Jet Airways and Air India bothered ignoring him like a small-fly in the market. However, when he brought in the A320s and cut travelling cost to half, all airlines had to sit up and change their profit models,” an aviation expert said.
“No catering, no travel agents, Gopinath started off with the online booking when the travel portals were not in the picture. It is his airline that also made web-booking and travel portals a successful business model today,” the expert added.
Jitendra Bhargava, who retired from Air India said, “The concept introduced by Air Deccan spurred other legacy airlines to think of low-cost airlines. Jet Airways setting up Jetlite being an example.”