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India's first low-cost carrier Air Deccan, which ceased operations after being acquired by erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines in 2008, took off wings again as a commuter airline with its maiden flight taking off for Jalgaon from here today. The flight, DN 1320, took off for Jalgaon, around 400 km from here in North Maharashtra, from the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) here this afternoon. "It's a sense of great beginning. A sense of being fortunate that Air Deccan is taking off again," Air Deccan chairman Capt G R Gopinath told PTI. There was a dream of taking flying to every possible corner of the country, which did not come to fruition because of Air Deccan's merger with the Kingfisher Airlines in 2008, he said. "Now I have the opportunity to relaunch operations across the country," said the pioneer of low-cost aviation in India. The flight was inaugurated by Maharashtra PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil along with Gopinath. However, the maiden flight was marred by delay.
The aircraft took off at around 2.55 pm instead of the scheduled departure of 1.20 pm. Air Deccan's strategic partners Shaishav Shah of Ahmedabad-based GSEC Ltd and Himanshu Shah of Monarch Networth Capital as well as senior DGCA officials were on-board the inaugural flight. Air Deccan received the scheduled commuter operator (SCO) permit from regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) yesterday. In the first phase of operations, Air Deccan plans to provide connectivity to Jalgaon, Nashik and Kolhapur from Mumbai and Pune. Air Deccan had bagged 34 routes in the first phase of bidding for Udan scheme, which caps fares at Rs 2,500 for a flight under hour duration. For the Jalgaon flight, the airline has pegged fares at Rs 2,250 for 50 per cent of the seats, to be operated under the Regional Connectivity Scheme, while the ticket price for the remaining nine will be Rs 4,500 per seat, an official said. Air Deccan has deployed a 19-seater plane, Beachcraft B-1900D, (18 passengers and one crew member) on the Mumbai- Jalgaon route. The same aircraft will come back to Mumbai and then fly to Nashik this evening. Flight operators, awarded routes under the scheme, are entitled to a subsidy to keep fares low for the passengers. An airline has to set aside 50 per cent of its seating capacity at the discounted fares.