ZoomAir, India’s new domestic carrier had its first inaugural flight from Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi to Durgapur’s Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport on February 12, 2017 in the presence of Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi, Union Minister for Civil Aviation. The launch happened after the airline received its Schedule Operating Permit and Air Operators Permit (AOP) process that was completed after nine months CAP3100 Certification Process of five phases.

The airline is operated by Zexus Air Services Private Limited based out of Gurgaon. It has aircrafts of 50 seater regional jets by Bombardier out of which two are operational and third, fourth and fifth will be joining the fleet by May 2017. These aircrafts are 20% faster than a Boeing and an Airbus that are currently operated in India. ZoomAir happens to be the only airline in the country that has a cockpit crew ratio 1:1, having equal number of males and females.

The airline has Delhi-Kolkata-Durgapur-Delhi flights and the same is extended to Amritsar followed by Delhi-Surat-Bhavnagar-Delhi route. They will also be connecting Delhi and Kolkata to Tirupati, Vijaywada, Mumbai, Shillong, Aizwal, Pasighat and Zero (in Arunachal Pradesh), Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Indore and Bhopal soon this year.

Commenting on the occasion, Koustav M Dhar, Chief Executive Officer & Director,  said, “Our main aim is to boost regional connectivity with the metro cities, take a passenger to their destination on time and provide comfort. We want the non metro people to come to a metro town and leave according to a convenient time. Accordingly, we have outlined our timings and fares that could help our passengers in saving their time and money.”

The airline is funded with 20 crores capital, a standard one for any scheduled airline for an aircraft of less than 40,000 kgs. The funding includes private equity of the airline’s three Directors- Ravi Singh, Ramesh Duggal and Koustav Dhar. The leasing of the aircrafts has been done by two companies- CRJ aircraft leasing based out of Dublin, and Skyone FZE based out of Dubai. The first three aircrafts are from CRJ aircrafts and the remaining two by Skyone FZE.

ZoomAir is the second domestic carrier to operate through Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport after Air India retrieved its operations in June 2016. The project of Kazi Nazrul Islam Airport is entirely owned by Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL) under a PPP between Singapore’s Changi International Airport and the Government of West Bengal. Durgapur is listed under government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) out of a list of 16 underserved airports of India. The capacity of the airport is one million passengers per annum.

Lokesh Bhardia, Advisor-Commercial, Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited, said, “During the time of Air India’s operations, Durgapur Airport had generated around 60-70 seats as its commitment with large aircraft. With Zoom Air being only a 50 seater aircraft, the airport authority doesn’t find an issue in filling this 50% commitment. We feel that this is an ideal aircraft, which would not only fit Durgapur but all the other tier three cities which are not the state capital. The major stakeholder in this airport is Changi International Airport Singapore (with above 30% stake) along with Indian stakeholders.”

“25 seats under the load factor will be subsidised in every flight that the airline will operate on its Delhi-Durgapur-Delhi route. Therefore, the airline will have to have a booking of minimum 20% seats. It will get a subsidy from the West Bengal Government on Kolkata-Durgapur and Durgapur-Delhi route only if it fails to meet the minimum load factor,” informed Dhar.

“We are also in talks with few more airlines, but at this stage nothing is concrete as such kind of partnerships requires long term gestation and capital. Also with Zoom Air commencing its operations, the commercial viability will be further proved,” added Bhardia.

Neena Sharma, GM-Airport Operations, Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited stated, “The location of this airport is in an energy rich area. It is in close proximity of coal, thermal energy and steel plants along with some really big PSUs also, most of our businesses are based on these industries.”