Akasa Air, India’s newest airline and what it calls itself “India’s Greenest airline” started commercial operations today, with the inaugural flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. I was very excited to be on the very first flight and took away some wonderful memories. It was also my first time on the Boeing B737MAX so that was another reason for the excitement :). Now, let’s take a look at what flying Akasa Air is like!
If you want to experience flying Akasa Air’s inaugural flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, I have uploaded a video of it on IH Aviation and Travel’s YouTube channel. Here it is:
The flight was scheduled to depart at 10:05 am from Mumbai. Do note that Akasa Air uses Terminal 1 at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. I reached the airport at around 07:00 am and check-in for the inaugural flight QP1101 had already begun. Within two minutes, I was checked in and handed over my boarding pass.
The check-in counters were decorated with flowers and all of the ground personnel seemed to be very excited for the auspicious occasion.
At around 08:00 am, the cake-cutting ceremony started. Present at the ceremony were Mr. Vinay Dube, Founder and CEO of Akasa Air; Mr. Belson Coutinho; Mr. Anand Srinivasan and Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.
The ceremony started with the handing over of the first boarding pass to the first passenger, followed by cake cutting. That was followed by a speech from Mr. Vinay Dube. He said:
Today marks a significant milestone in Akasa Air’s journey as we successfully commence our commercial operations with our maiden flight from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. This is not just a testament to the women and men of Akasa that have made this day possible, but also a testament of India’s ongoing economic transformation and that of the country’s rapidly progressing civil aviation landscape. The Akasa story is aligned with the nation’s journey towards making air travel affordable through PM Modi-ji’s clarion call – Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik. We want to serve our country by creating strong transportation links which are the underpinning of any economic growth engine. We are thrilled to finally begin our commercial journey and bring alive our vision of supporting India’s economic progress and building India’s greenest, most dependable, and most affordable airline. Akasa Air’s empathetic and youthful personality, employee-friendly culture, customer-service philosophy, and tech-led approach will make this commitment a reality for us. We are now focussed on delivering a flying experience unlike anything witnessed in the Indian skies thus far.
Once the ceremony at the check-in counter was over, everyone rushed to security check as there was a second ceremony to be held at the gate.
The security check process was a bit slow. When I reached the gate, the ceremony had already started with live speeches from officials at Ministry of Civil Aviation, Mr. Vinay Dube and Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala.
During his speech, Mr. Jhunjhunwala joked that IndiGo is already answering to the new competition as IndiGo has announced that it will install new seats on its upcoming 75 aircraft. These seats are similar to the ones found on Akasa’s B737MAX.
In between the speeches of officials from Ministry of Civil Aviation, Mr. Jhunjhunwala proudly added:
Normally a child is born in nine months. We took 12 months to launch an airline!
Boarding started at 09:15 am and all the “Aviation Geeks” rushed to get onboard to get pictures and videos of the empty cabin (including me 😉).
Akasa Air’s Boeing B737MAX-8 aircraft features 189 standard Economy Class seats in a 3-3 configuration. The bright purple seats immediately capture one’s attention. The cabin looks great with the bright purple seats and the Boeing Sky Interior.
The seats’ fabric is cloth and they have adjustable headrests with support to help you rest better. The legroom is similar to what you will find on other low-cost carriers like IndiGo and GoFirst. There are four USB-A ports per 3 seats, which is Akasa’s Unique Selling Point (not a major thing, but no Indian low-cost carrier other than IndiGo currently offers charging points). Note that Akasa will be offering USB-C ports too in their upcoming aircraft.
The overall vibe of the cabin is very nice. Akasa Air plays music during boarding and landing making the whole experience full!
Pushback started at 10:14 am. The captain made an announcement welcoming us onboard the flight and congratulated us on being a part of the historic occasion.
Take-off was a bit delayed due to the ceremony going on at the gate (meaning delay in passengers boarding the aircraft). The aircraft was filled with Aviation Geeks from all over India with people coming from Delhi, Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Hyderabad etc specially for this flight. The excitement was clearly visible with people cheering, taking photos and videos of the cabin and also with the cabin crew.
The aircraft finally took-off at 10:34 am. Once the seatbelt sign was turned off, the cabin crew sprung to action.
To celebrate the start of commercial operations, Akasa Air served complimentary meals and beverages to all passengers on all flights today (7th August 2022).
There was a choice between Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian meal. I went for the vegetarian option. The meal consisted of a Mushroom and Brie croissant and a beverage. Beverage options included Orange Juice, Watermelon Juice, Cold Coffee or any other beverage from the menu.
Akasa’s buy-on-board meal service is called “Café Akasa” and the menu is very vast. It offers a wide choice of meals, including unique and varied items, and farm-inspired, plant based nutritious menus, exclusively curated with reputed chefs from across India. Quality fusion meal offerings are inspired by Indian cuisine and cater to all taste buds with unique year-round festival menus and industry-first meals and beverages like pour and serve pasta, Vietnamese rice rolls and hot chocolate.
Passengers can pre-book their meal up to 12 hours prior to their flight departure. Exceptions will be cakes, which can be ordered up to 48 hours prior to the flight departure. Note that hot snacks and beverages will only be available on flights longer than 70 minutes.
Akasa calls itself an “environmentally progressive airline”. It serves meals in boxes which are ethically sourced from sustainably grown crops.
Service throughout the flight was great. The crew, who were also excited for the inaugural flight, were very enthusiastic and fulfilled every passenger’s request with a smile on their face, albeit behind a mask.
Descent and landing
The flight went by very quickly. We had already started our descent into Ahmedabad when the empty boxes were being collected back. The descent into Ahmedabad was very beautiful with rainy clouds hovering low over the city making the perfect scenery for some good pictures.
We touched down at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Aiport at 11:23 am, two minutes ahead of the scheduled arrival time of 11:25 am.
Normally, inaugural flights are given a water cannon salute upon landing to mark the historic occasion. However, this was not the case with this flight. It was presumably due to the airline’s “environment-first” approach.
Upon disembarkation, we were handed a goodie bag, which consisted of a certificate indicating that you were on the inaugural flight, a B737MAX-8 1:200 aircraft model in Akasa’s livery (😍!) and a bag tag.
Thoughts on Akasa Air
First of all, I would say that Akasa Air is different. From the seats to the service to the aircraft, everything seems nice.
When the airline opened bookings for its first flights, it specifically mentioned about the USB ports present at every seat. Now some may think that this is a very minor differentiator from the competition, but in the technology driven world that we live in, it could make a sizeable difference if a passenger has a choice of flying Akasa and any other low-cost carrier on the same route at the same time.
The meal options that the airline provides is also very good, with healthy options also included in it for health-conscious travellers.
If Akasa wants to take on IndiGo, the one thing which Akasa will have to get it right from the start is to gain passengers’ trust by operating flights reliably and on-time. This is what IndiGo was able to achieve right from the start and we all know where IndiGo is now 😉. Also, the onboard service will need to be consistent, which is what IndiGo has been doing right from the beginning.
IndiGo will have to look out for the new competition as Akasa Air will scale very rapidly in terms of fleet size and network, with 72 aircraft scheduled to be delivered in the next five years. This will be the fastest-ever induction of aircraft in an airline’s fleet in India.
The major threat will be to GoFirst and SpiceJet. GoFirst is still a good airline but SpiceJet is not at all famous for its passenger experience. SpiceJet is also going through some financial troubles for quite some time now so it will be more harder for it to keep hold on the market.
Here’s wishing Akasa Air All The Very Best for the future and I wish it makes an impact on Indian Aviation! It’s Your Sky!
If you have not yet subscribed to IH Aviation and Travel’s YouTube channel, be sure to do so as a full review of Akasa’s inaugural flight will be coming very soon!
Also, this was my very first inaugural flight experience and first time writing an article about the same. If you think that there are any areas in which I can improve in terms of the style of writing or writing as a whole, please let me know in the comments section below. I will highly appreciate it. 😊
Thank you so much for reading this article!
Featured image by Ishan Haria
All the other images by Ishan Haria