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PHOTOS and Analysis: A new Indian start-up; Zexus Air?

by Vinay Bhaskara

A report in Ch-Aviation is stating that proposed domestic start-up Zexus Air, to be based at Delhi, is planning to acquire four Embraer E175LR regional jet aircraft (with manufacturer serial numbers [MSNs] 17000277, 17000287, 17000291, and 17000309), as per its application with India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for an air operator certificate (AOC). The aircraft were previously with Brazilian regional operator TRIP Linhas Aereas, a subsidiary of Azul Brazilian Airlines, the Brazilian low cost carrier (LCC) founded by JetBlue’s founder, David Neelman

Not much is known about the startup Zexus Air, except that it would operate on domestic routes, likely with a LCC business model. The carrier has not launched a website, and a quick scan of the airline’s Facebook page reveals the following picture of a US Airways E-Jet with Zexus Air titles added via Photoshop or some equivalent. The unprofessional photo below does not re-assure anyone about the viability of Zexus Air’s business plan, nor their level of capitalization at this present stage.

Image Credit: Zexus Air

Using Embraer E175 regional jets is a recipe for disaster in the Indian airline industry, thanks to discounts in airport costs for aircraft below a certain weight. These discounts, which apply to turboprops of the same size as the E175, are designed to promote service to Tier II and Tier III Indian cities. But as a side effect of the discounts, regional jet operations in India are simply economically un-viable. For example, regional operator Paramount Airways, who utilized a fleet of Embraer E-Jets, was decimated earlier this decade by competition from Kingfisher and Jet Airways ATR turboprops in the South.

Moreover, the Indian operating environment is anything but conducive to a new start-up airline. Demand is weakening thanks to a poor macro-economic climate, and the existing airlines are already locked into capacity growth thanks to massive aircraft orders. Moreover, seasoned LCC veteran Air Asia is soon to launch an Indian franchise, and even Air Costa, with a similar business model based around regional jets, is set to launch operations within a couple of months. Zexus Air, it would appear, is doomed from the start. 

About Vinay Bhaskara

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