By Winston Shek
India Regional Carrier TruJet Eyes Airbus A220, E2
In an interview with the Indian publication Money Control, Laxmi Prasad, the chairman of TruJet minority owner Interups Inc., revealed plans for TruJet to purchase 54 Airbus A220s and 54 Embraer E2s. The news arrived after his investment firm, Interups Inc., acquired a 49.9% stake in the company.
TruJet expects talks for the Airbus and Embraer aircraft to conclude in the next 45 days, according to the publication ch-aviation. It is unknown which variants of the A220 or E2 the airline will order. Currently, the regional carrier operates several ATR-72 aircraft, with the potential order bringing its fleet size to 115 aircraft.
Prasad expects that the aircraft will arrive starting this year, allowing for a total fleet of 21 aircraft immediately. In India, an airline must have 20 or more aircraft to commence international operations.
“Embraer will supply three aircraft every two months,” Prasad said. “The arrangement with Airbus will see one aircraft coming in every 1.5 months, or a maximum of nine planes a year. So, it may take about six years for the Airbus order to be delivered, lower for Embraer.”
With a larger fleet, TruJet will expand to meet its competitors — like AirAsia India, Vistara and GoAir — in a wider variety of markets. Specifically, Prasad envisions Hyderabad as a major aviation hub for the airline.
“I have an emotional connect with Hyderabad, as this is where I grew up,” he said.
Currently, TruJet operates regional services to 21 destinations using its fleet of ATR-72 aircraft, including a hub in Hyderabad and two smaller bases in Ahembedad and Chennai. It helps service India’s UDAN Regional Connectivity program, connecting second and third-tier cities in India with major hubs via government-funded auctions of routes. With its small operation, the airline maintains a 0.6% market share across the country.
As for the future, Prasad says the airline plans “to expand services to the length and breadth of the country, overseas, and get into segments such as cargo, private charters, and helicopter ambulance services.” For its overseas plans, the Airbus A220’s range will allow TruJet to reach destinations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia comfortably.
To prepare for the expansion, Trujet is bolstering its management with a former Indian Airlines CEO and a former technology head at Indian Airlines, which merged with Air India in 2007.
Turbo Megha Airways Pty Ltd. was founded in 2013, later branding itself as TruJet and commencing commercial operations in 2015. The airline has steadily grown from an initial fleet of two ATR72s, even announcing IPO aspirations in 2019. However, in 2020, the global pandemic caused decreased revenue for the airline, forcing five ATR72 aircraft to be grounded.
In 2021, U.S. investment firm Interups Inc. announced the acquisition of a 49.9% stake in the carrier after the firm was unsuccessful in its efforts to acquire Air India.
“We had set aside $1.89 billion for the planned investment in Air India. That is not happening now,” Prasad said at the time. “We would like to put that money in this investment now. This will be over the next three years.”