Finally, it’s official. Regional carrier Air Costa will commence operations from the 14th of October, 2013. The regional airline, Andhra Pradesh’s first, will connect Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Ahmedabad.
Schedules for the flights are already published.
The Management includes the Chairman, Lingamaneni Ramesh; the CEO, Captain K.N. Babu; and the Director of Operations, Captain Lila Singh Aulakh. Lila Singh Aulakh was formerly a line pilot with Air India on the Boeing 747-400s.
Air Costa will start its operations with two Embraer E-170 airplanes (VT-LNR and VT-LSR). The E-170s are the LR version, capable to carrying 78 passengers across 1800NM. The inaugural flight will be from Vijayawada to Bangalore, which departs at 1030 IST and is expected to land at 1130 IST. This is a deviation from their schedule which is a 0645IST departure and a 0745IST arrival at Bangalore.
A third airplane, an Embraer E190 serial number 593, painted in Air Costa’s colors was to have been delivered to the airline, but whereabouts of the aircraft are unknown after being last spotted in Spain.
The Embraer 170s are, surprisingly, configured as a two-class cabin, to seat 6 First Class and 60 Economy Class. Uncertainty exists on the airline’s identity: a low cost or a low fare airline.
The airline is based at Vijayawada but maintenance facilities shall be at Chennai, until a planned MRO facility at Vijayawada’s Gannavaram Airport (ICAO: VOBZ, IATA: VGA) is setup, which is expected to take 1.5 years. Visakhapatnam’s and Vijayawada’s airports are strategic as they link the coastal region of Andhra Pradesh with other parts of the country. Vijayawada is expected to rise to greater prominence in the light of the breakup of Andhra Pradesh into smaller states.
On the 21st of September, 2013, the state government decided to expand and improve infrastructure facilities at the Vijayawada airport at a cost of INR 28 Million. 492 acres of land are expected to be acquired, near the airport.
Air Costa expects to grow operations to 14 routes, and 25 destinations by 2015, and 25 aircraft by 2018. Reportedly, the airline has about 300 employees including foreign pilots and engineers.