Airline Startup Of The Week: India’s TruStar

There’s now another development in the Jet Airways saga as a private charter company has expressed interest in acquiring the collapsed airline. With Synergy Group’s bid losing momentum over slot-allocation clarity, other suitors were invited to express their interest. Hyderabad-based Turbo Aviation Private Limited is now the latest to do so according to various sources. This group is also launching a low-cost carrier at the same time.

Airline Startup Of The Week: India’s TruStar
Turbo Aviation is a charter airline that operates two Cessna Citation private jets. Photo: Turbo Aviation

We reported earlier this month that the bankruptcy court handling Jet Airways had directed creditors to allow fresh Expressions of Interest (EOI) during the Synergy Group’s delay. This was brought into the spotlight as two new potential investors emerged – who went unnamed at the time.

“The CoC (committee of creditors) is considering to open two new EoIs for Jet Airways. The timeline is very crucial for the revival of the company and hence we are seeking more time from the tribunal,” -Ashish Chhawchharia, resolution professional for Jet Airways via Economic Times

Turbo Aviation and TruStar

According to The Hindu Business Line, Turbo Aviation Private Ltd has emerged as one of those interested parties. Earlier this week, Turbo Aviation had announced its plans to launch a new low-cost airline, named ‘TruStar’, by mid-2020. This was made possible as it recently firmed up an investment of about £100 million from a group based in the UK.

“We had signed an agreement with a large UK business group to dilute majority stake in Turbo Aviation in its favour. We will announce the name of our partner and other details once the security clearances are in place,” -V Umesh, Founder of Turbo Aviation via Business Standard

 

Airbus delivery of 1000th A320neo
Low-cost airlines like Indigo already dominate India. Is there enough room for yet another budget carrier? Photo: Airbus

TruStar plans to launch as soon as February or March 2020. Sources report that it will have an initial fleet of five ATRs and five Airbus 320s.

With Umesh looking to sink money into Jet Airways while starting up a low-cost carrier, we can’t help but wonder if these two plans are interconnected. Would Jet Airways assets be absorbed into the new TruStar fleet? Or perhaps these are two separate plans. Perhaps the investor will simply revive Jet Airways as its former position as a full-service airline. There’s still a lot we don’t know.

Uncertainty remains

While the Hindu Business Line talked to three sources to verify that Turbo Aviation was indeed behind one of the expressions of interest, there is still uncertainty. One of these sources says that its backers have had trouble proving that they have enough capital to invest. This is what the source had to say:

“Yes, there has been an early interest, however, we have burnt our fingers with several entities who were unable to present proof of business and deposit money. Hence, it’s better not to take this early interest at face value.”

jet-airways-rescue-plan
The deadline for Jet Airways’ rescue plans was postponed numerous times. Photo: Oliver Holzbauer via Flickr.

Conclusion

According to a December 23rd notice on the Jet Airways website, potential bidders have until January 6th to submit their EOIs. It will be interesting to see if and how Turbo Aviation’s side will develop their plan and move forward and if TruStar’s launch will be at all connected to Jet Airway’s old assets.

There is still at least one more group that had expressed interest but has remained anonymous to the public. Will we see more than just these two groups? We’ll find out more in a little over a week when the EOI deadline has passed.

Do you think Umesh’s group has what it takes to adequately turn Jet Airways around? Or are they overly-optimistic and aspirational? Let us know in the comments!

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