With Rs.1,600 crore in its kitty, Madurai-based Paramount Airways is planning to restart operations by May with six ATR-72-600 aircraft, a top official of the now defunct airline told The Hindu.
The erstwhile all-business-class airline operating five Embraer aircraft had its last flight in August 2010 when the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) deregistered its aircraft following a dispute with its aircraft lessors over non-payment of lease rentals following engine malfunction.
In November, 2012, the airline was awarded a compensation of Rs.1,600 crore through international arbitration, and, in the same month, the DGCA renewed its operating licence, paving the way for starting afresh.
“The money has now come into our account, and we are finalising plans to restart operations in April. The DGCA has given its go-ahead. There was no liability on the company as the airline was making profit for three years prior to closing down,” the Paramount Airlines official said asking not to be named.
Talks are on to procure the ATR aircraft on lease, and, going forward, the airline may induct Airbus into its fleet. The ATRs with 72 seats are next generation aircraft which are much more comfortable and come with fuel efficiency.
The airline has also started the process to recruit personnel, including pilots, cabin crew, engineers and ground staff.
The airline plans to restart with staff strength of 900 people. The core team that was earlier running the airline is already there, and the rest would be hired in the coming weeks. Several old employees have been called back.
Paramount Airways wants to initially concentrate on the southern states where it had a stronghold and enjoyed customer loyalty. Apart from reopening its earlier bases, Paramount is planning to fly to Mysore, Tuticorin and Puducherry to name a few new destinations.
The official said now Paramount was the most profitable airline in India despite operating no flight for 30 months.
The Rs.1,600 crore that has come in by way of compensation gives the airline much financial muscle power to scale up in coming years.
Contrary to speculations, Paramount was not looking for investment from any foreign airline as there had been no requirement of funds, the official said.