Akasa Air has been the talk of the town, given the newest airline to have launched in India. Akasa has 72 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on order, with the first batch coming in from other customers who have not taken up their aircraft. Akasa expected a rapid induction of the first 20 aircraft, with 18 aircraft joining the fleet by March 2023. This premise was based on two aircraft joining the fleet every month. However, this plan seems to have seen a delay.
Akasa Air’s aircraft induction so far.
Akasa has inducted 7 Boeing 737-8 aircraft (VT-YAA/B/C/D/E/F/H/I). These aircraft came from all over the place.
- VT-YAA/B/C were originally for T’Way Air but were not taken up.
- VT-YAD came from GECAS.
- VT-YAE/F/I were originally for Eastar Jet and marked not taken up by the airline.
The last aircraft for Akasa was delivered in Mid-October 2022, and since then, Akasa Air has not taken delivery of any new aircraft. But there are three aircraft in the pipeline for now.
- VT-YAF/G, which have not been delivered, were originally for Eastar Jet as well.
- VT-YAH (MSN 44866), which has not been delivered, was originally for Jet Airways. However, then not been taken up by GOL Transportes Aéreos of Brazil and is now headed the way of Akasa Air.
Some other aircraft coming the way of Akasa Air are also not taken up by GOL Transportes Aéreos of Brazil. They are coming from GECAS, which, incidentally, was the lessor for the first bunch of Jet Airways 737 MAX aircraft as well.
- MSN 44866, ntu GOL Transportes Aéreos
- MSN 44865, ntu GOL Transportes Aéreos (originally for Jet Airways)
- MSN 44867, ntu Jet Airways
There are nine aircraft that were destined to be operated by 9W but are now going to be inducted by QP.
Akasa Air runs into supply chain issues.
Akasa Air cannot escape the supply chain issues that seem to be derailing the plans of many airlines at the moment. Akasa, which started with inducting aircraft after fixing up the seat upholstery to their brand colours and putting in headrests and more comfortable cushions on the seats (and USB ports retrofitted), now seems to have added an aircraft which did not see the standardisation intended. For instance, here is a cabin picture yours truly clicked when on board the second commercial flight of Akasa Air (on their launch day).
Here is a picture of VT-YAE, which does not have USB power ports and different upholstery compared to the original intended look of the airline.
In a meeting with the media, Akasa founder-CEO Vinay Dube has now indicated that the airline is seeing delays in inducting aircraft because while the aircraft is ready, they cannot source the replacement seats for some aircraft, which were initially configured in a 174-seat configuration.
As per Mr Dube, the airline sees that the seat, fabric and USB charger suppliers are unable to deliver as per schedule, which will result in the next eleven aircraft being delivered having a different configuration compared to the current 189-seat configuration. He states that many of these aircraft will have the first three rows as 2×2 instead of 3×3 seats, with the plane having a different seat cover that will not be in line with the airline’s purple. Not just that, the USB chargers will not be present on all seats. 11 aircraft will arrive in a 174-seat configuration instead of the originally intended 189 seats.
Putting things together, it seems that these aircraft will be the Jet Airways 737-MAX aircraft which was delivered and then flown back, and the ntu Jet Airways 737 MAX aircraft. This might not be true for all aircraft. Here is a look inside Jet Airways (1.0) 737 MAX aircraft’ economy class.
These aircraft have USB ports in every seat and PED holders in the seatback. The plane has coat hooks as well.
And here are the first three rows, with Business Class seats.
If and when these aircraft are being inducted in the original configuration, then the aircraft is configured in the 12C162Y configuration, which adds up to Mr Dube’s 174-seat reference. You can read about the Jet Airways (1.0) Business Class and Economy Class experience here.
However, Akasa does not intend to start a separate premium cabin to sell these wider seats. While Akasa sells the economy class front row A+ seats at INR 1500 (with a 50% discount for the customers who buy the Flexi tickets), they will sell these front rows with the wider Collins Aerospace MiQ seats at INR 2,500 per sector and call the product A++. In this move, they are going the way of Spirit Airlines, a US ULCC, which has the Big Front Seat available for an extra charge after you buy the ticket. These seats are the same that Vistara uses in some of their A320neo’s Business Class cabin.
Akasa also said that the INR 2,500 only bought you the seat allocation and no other perks such as priority boarding or a meal on board, similar to the Spirit Airlines Big Front Seat. This is unlike SpiceJet, which had served a meal on their Business Class seating proposition (again temporary). The new seats will start turning up on the reservation systems on November 16, 2022, and aircraft bearing the A++ seating will start flying in early December 2022.
Just for a few months though
Akasa will currently take these aircraft in an as-is condition. However, it intends to send them back to the shop sometime over the next nine months to harmonise them with the rest of the fleet. That will mean the business class seats go out, and more economy class seats from Recaro take that space.
No visibility on the delays to new aircraft delivery, if any.
The accelerated pace for Akasa Air’s first twenty aircraft comes from the fact that these are not-taken-up aircraft built originally for other carriers and are now being delivered to Akasa instead, albeit two to three years after they were built. Akasa is confident that they will have 18 aircraft joining their fleet by the end of March 2023, although it might not be an aircraft a fortnight, sometimes batched deliveries as well.
From mid-2023 onwards, however, Akasa intends to take the 197-seat configured 737-8-200, a denser aircraft that will be purpose-built for Akasa Air. When asked about the timeline for these new aircraft to be delivered, Akasa CEO mentioned the first twenty aircraft already have engines on their wings, so no delay is anticipated on account of the shortage of engine supply for the moment. However, for the new aircraft, there is no communication from Boeing at the moment that there will be any impact on the delivery.
Don’t be surprised if you eventually book a ticket for Akasa Air and find yourself boarding an aircraft that looks close to a Jet Airways (1.0) aircraft on the inside. Akasa sees some supply chain constraints of its own and will take 737-8 planes in the original configuration rather than Akasa’s intended configuration for these aircraft. On these aircraft, you will see three rows of Collins Aerospace MiQ seating for 6-9 months.
What do you think of Akasa’s seating plans? Would you pay INR 2,500 extra for these A++ seats?
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