Indian air charter company Deccan Aviation is planning to launch the country's first "no-frills" airline this year with Bombardier Dash 8s.

Managing director Capt G R Gopinath says passenger flights are due to begin in May. He says terms have been agreed with Bombardier for the lease of six Dash 8-100s for the move into scheduled services.

The operation will be launched with four aircraft followed by two more three months later. Around 15 destinations are to be served in the south of the country.

"We will be connecting underserved or totally unconnected areas," says Gopinath. "We have been looking at this for the last two to three years and feel the timing is right. India needs a low-cost airline and this will be modelled in some ways on EasyJet and Ryanair."

Bangalore-based Deccan operates eight helicopters and two small fixed-wing aircraft on charter services. Gopinath says it is India's largest air charter company.

The Indian government has been calling for the development of air services to underserved destinations. Most of India's airlines operate larger aircraft such as Boeing 737s on domestic flights, although main private carrier Jet Airways now operates ATR turboprops in addition to its 737s and is to add Embraer regional jets, while rival 737 operator Air Sahara plans to acquire Bombardier CRJs.

Source: Flight International