Malvinder and Shivinder Singh-promoted Religare Voyages, which has been operating private charter flights, is launching a regional airlines called Air Mantra. The latest entrant in a tough aviation market will take off on July 23 and connect two north Indian cities – Amritsar and Chandigarh.
Given that the two cities are around 5-6 hours apart (by road) and Air Mantra is offering a 50-minute flight which would take another 2-3 hours for check-in at the airports, the airlines will be looking at a niche market, to begin with.
It is eventually targeting to connect four states – Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Air Mantra would soon connect Dharamshala and Jammu to its network, according to its website.
Air Mantra has started with two Beechcraft 1900D aircraft and expects to increase its fleet size in near future. The small aircraft sporting a twin turbine engine can accommodate up to 19 passengers for short-haul flights.
It is also offering discounts if a passenger does not have a check-in baggage, besides an EMI scheme to pay for tickets in instalments.
The venture is part of Religare Voyages Ltd, a privately held firm of the Singh brothers who are behind companies such as Fortis Healthcare and Religare Enterprises. Besides air charter services, the company is also into travel management, specialised training and aircraft engineering. It has strategic hubs in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad, and holds licences to operate all around the globe. Its fleet includes jets, turbo prop aircraft and helicopters.
The aviation space, especially commercial airlines, is a tough market to be in. Although a few exceptions like the low-cost Indigo are making profits, most other airlines in India is in the red. In the past, there had been a few other airlines like MDLR who folded operations after launching commercial operations. Others like the full-service, debt-laden Kingfisher are finding it tough to continue with heavy losses and their inability to pay off lenders.
(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)