Star Air, an Indian regional airline, has expressed its confidence in the potential of the Indian market for regional aviation. Simran Singh Tiwana, the CEO of Star Air, believes that if the right strategies are implemented, sustaining business in this sector will not be an issue. The airline is focused on doubling its passenger volumes this year by scaling up its fleet and adding three new destinations, excluding the upcoming launch of Jaipur on Monday.
Established in 2019 by the Sanjay Ghodawat Group, Star Air currently operates a fleet of five Embraer aircraft, serving 16 destinations under the Central government’s regional connectivity scheme, UDAN. The airline operates from two bases, Bengaluru and Belagavi. Tiwana emphasized the potential for regional travel to grow five-fold in the next five years.
Tiwana highlighted that operating a successful regional airline in India is indeed possible by choosing the right network that aligns with the type of aircraft being used. He also mentioned that regional connectivity extends beyond short-haul routes and emphasized the importance of thinking differently when connecting smaller stations with major cities like Mumbai and Delhi.
While Star Air has encountered challenges related to wildlife issues, runway operations, and restricted hours at certain UDAN airports, the airline remains operationally profitable. Tiwana clarified that their business model does not clash with other airlines in India as they primarily operate on monopoly routes, targeting separate markets.
Star Air exclusively operates Embraer planes and currently owns four 60-seater E145 aircraft. They have also signed lease agreements for four larger 76-seater E175 planes, with one already inducted and the remaining three planned for induction by September. Tiwana highlighted the importance of owning aircraft during the initial years of the airline, which helped them navigate through the pandemic and sustain operations.
Star Air’s recent launch of flights on the Bangalore-Hyderabad-Jamnagar route, utilizing their new Embraer E175 jet, makes them the first regional carrier in India to offer business class and economy seating in a twin-class configuration. The airline plans to operate 20% of its flights on non-UDAN routes and expects around 12 UDAN routes to mature and become commercial routes in the coming months.
Looking ahead, Star Air intends to participate in the fifth round of the regional connectivity scheme and will file bids before the June 1 deadline. With its measured approach to expansion and confidence in the regional aviation market, Star Air aims to capitalize on the untapped potential and further establish itself in the Indian aviation industry.