Three regional carriers set to take off in the South, MDLR Airlines to go solo in the north

According to sources, the Southern region would see licences accorded to three operators, Air Dravida, Star Aviation and Trans India, while in the north MDLR Airlines would be the sole player to start with.

According to reports only these four applications have met the cut out of a lot of 10 that were received for starting regional airline operations.

As per rules recently framed by the civil aviation ministry, regional airlines would use small planes, typically turboprops or small passenger jets, to avail the waiver of landing/parking charges at airports, along with cheaper aviation turbine fuel (ATF).

The rules stipulate that these regional airlines can operate from one metro airport in each region, except the South where they have been allowed to fly between Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Typically, these regional airlines would fly planes with a seating plan for 50-100 passengers.

However, ticket prices would most probably remain competitive with the larger players. According to Ramachandran Iyer, executive director, Air Dravida would be a full-fare airline, offering a convenient schedule, flying short haul with increased frequency, but not as ab low-cost carrier. Initially, the airline would lease three Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft to commence operations connecting Chennai to various smaller cities in the South. In about three months, the airline would add another two aircraft to its fleet.

Madurai, Coimbatore, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore and Hyderabad are on Air Dravida''s flight plan, connecting all these cities with Chennai, and flying between Hyderabad and Bangalore.