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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
India gets first budget airline
Air Deccan launch
Air Deccan has a fleet of six planes
India's first low-cost airline has been launched in the southern city of Bangalore.

Air Deccan says its tickets will cost 50% less than other Indian airlines, and that it wants to make air travel feasible for all.

The new airline will initially offer a small number of flights connecting cities and towns in the south of the country, but says it aims to run seventy-five flights each day by November.

Its "no frills" service follows the example of European budget airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair.

Accessible flying

The company, which is part of helicopter charter specialists Deccan Aviation, has a fleet of six 48-seater ATR aircraft from France.

My dream is to make it a global company
G R Gopinath, managing director, Deccan Aviation
The service is due to begin with one flight per day to Hubli and Mangalore for a week, beginning on 27 August. It will then expand to 20 flights daily to different parts of the country.

The new service has been hailed by the federal and local governments.

"The days of flying being a symbol of only maharajas or the rich are over.

"Competition and better connectivity by the private airlines will make flying cheaper and accessible to even the lower middle class," the minister for civil aviation Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

'Air connectivity'

Mr Rudy said the government would encourage more feeder services in the country to link growing cities and towns with the metros and enable people to fly at an affordable cost.

Defence minister George Fernandes said he was ready to make defence facilities available to the civilian sector to increase "air connectivity between towns and cities in the country for the benefit of the common man".

The Chief Minister of Karnataka S M Krishna said his government also backed Air Deccan, adding "I have ordered officials to make use of this service for quicker travel".

Local government officials travel normally by train and road in the absence of air connectivity to smaller cities and towns.

Deccan Aviation managing director Captain G R Gopinath said India needed more such low cost airlines services as the airline penetration in the country was pathetic.

Global ambitions

Despite a population of more than a billion, India has only 380 flights daily, carrying 40,000 passengers.

"For a country like ours which is growing economically, this could be increased dramatically.

"This is possible provided government controls over the aviation industry are further relaxed". Depending on its success, Air Deccan has plans to provide service to Dubai and Singapore.

" My dream is to make it a global company" said Captain Gopinath.

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