Air Costa, which is expected to start operations this month (July 2013), is ready to receive its third aircraft, a brand new Embraer 190 which was purchased from the manufacturer. Serial Number 593, which is painted in Air Costa colours and headed to Vijayawada, rolled out of the factory early this year, for an “undisclosed customer".
The purchased Embraer 190STD adds to Air Costa’s fleet of two leased Embraer 170-100LR airplanes (serial numbers 278 and 293). About 85 Embraer 190/195 aircraft were produced in 2012, of which 61 are variants of the Embraer 190. In sharp contrast, Embarer, in 2012, produced just 22 ERJ 170/175, of which only 2 are Embarer 170s; the rest being ERJ 175s.
While earlier reports cited April 2013 as the date of commencement of operations, new reports talk of July 2013 as the month that may witness Air Costa’s launch. Last year, Air Costa was to have launched in the month of May or June with Bombardier Q400 airplanes.
While Air Costa’s Embraer 170LR’s maximum passenger capacity of 80 and MTOW of 37,200kg will benefit from a landing fee waiver and a flat 4% service tax on ATF, the 114 seat (maximum) 47,790kg MTOW Embraer 190STD will attract landing fees and applicable tax on ATF which may be as high as 30% at some cities.
Quoting an Embraer release: “Air Costa has chosen E-Jets for their efficiency and reliability. Our plan is to link underserved markets in India with more direct flights," said Captain Babu, CEO of Air Costa. “The E170 and E190 are ideal in size and range. We can add frequencies and routes without adding too much capacity, thus serving places with seasonal demand, as well as key secondary and tertiary business centers."
As per Air Costa’s website, the airline will connect Vijayawada, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Vizag, Chennai, Ahmedabad, and Pune. While it is uncertain when the airline will actually launch, and how well a parent company focused on property development, and infrastructure development in the commercial, residential, education, power and health sectors will fare with an airline, success is possible with three key ingredients: strong focus on the customer and costs, adherence to a well researched business plan, and shunning of the ego.
It may be too early to say this, but the nature of the present businesses for LEPL foster a mindset that may turn out to be devastating for an airline. And if they succeed, which I hope they do, then they’ve, in all probability, read this post.