The pioneer of low cost flying in India, Captain G. R. Gopinath has launched Deccan Shuttles, intrastate flights in Gujarat, under parent company Deccan Charters Limited (DCL). The intercity like flight services will operate between Ahmedabad, Surat, Bhavnagar, Kandla and Jamnagar.
The first flight took off from Ahmedabad airport today morning to reach Surat as another plane left Surat for Bhavnagar. By evening, both flights plan shuttle back to Ahmedabad and Surat respectively.
DCL will begin operating to Kandla and Jamnagar by 27 August and it seems that the possibility of expanding elsewhere has not been ruled out as the company website says “In the first phase Deccan shuttles will connect Ahmedabad to Jamnagar, Kandla, Surat and Bhavnagar. Through this new initiative, Deccan will identify hereto inaccessible tourist, industrial and other important clusters that are not serviced by airlines and provide customized charter flight services“.
The Deccan Shuttle fleet consists of two Cessna Grand Caravan 208 B nine seater aircrafts.
Interestingly, at the back of the launch of Deccan Shuttle, it emerged that Gurgaon based Ventura AirConnect will also start flying intercity in Gujarat, according to Business Standard. The company is in the process of getting the required permits and clearances from the authorities.
None of the news reports have given formal confirmation of why DCL chose Gujarat for its new venture. However a closer look reveals that the 5 chosen cities are strategic locations in their own way.
Recently, Ahmedabad has become Gujarat’s and the country’s hub for economic activity and industrial growth. Last year at Trak.in we talked about how Sanand, a once sleepy district near Ahmedabad, became home to Tata’s iconic Nano plant, Ford’s upcoming 460 acre manufacturing facility and Peugeot’s new Rs. 4,000 crore plant.
Surat is now considered as one of India’s fastest growing city and is famous for being a hub for diamond and textile business. The city is known as the diamond capital of the world and it is also estimated that more than 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished in Surat.
Bhavnagar is a thriving business hub for salt production, diamond merchants and is home to Alang, estimated to be one of the world’s largest ship breaking yard in terms of volume.
Kandla Airport is close to the Port of Kandla and less than 100 km from Adani’s Mundra Port, the largest privately owned port in India. Jamnagar famously hosts Reliance Industries’ oil refinery which happens to be the largest in the world.
Captain G. R. Gopinath is the man who pioneered the concept of low cost airlines in India with Air Deccan in 2003. Amidst consolidation measures and lesser than expected growth in the domestic aviation market, the airline merged with Vijay Mallya owned Kingfisher Airlines to become its low cost version called Kingfisher Red.
It was only after Capt. G. R. Gopinath’s pioneering venture that other low cost carriers including SpiceJet and IndiGo were launched in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Recently the aviation industry in India is emerging as a hot pot of positives and negatives. SpiceJet announced a quarterly profit for the first time in 5 years as it posted a Rs. 56 crore profit for Q1 FY2013 while Kingfisher Airlines struggles to keep flying. IndiGo became the country’s largest airline by market share after out flying Jet Airways and its low cost brand Jet Connect in July 2012. Without doubt, industry leaders, experts and analysts will be watching with bated breath to see how Capt. G. R. Gopinath and DCL’s latest venture performs.