India’s youngest airline Akasa’s fleet will have a different look for the next nine months due to global supply chain constraints – instead of a unified experience across its aircraft as originally planned. While the low-cost carrier hopes to receive the ordered Boeing 737 MAX on time, the failure of suppliers of seats, fabric and USB chargers to deliver on schedule will mean the 11 planes delivered between this month and around next April will be a certainty. key differences — the first three rows have 2 x 2 instead of 3 x 3 seats; seat covers will not be the planned purple and all seats will not have USB chargers.
While Akasa currently has seven B737 MAXs that have 189 seats in a 3 x 3 configuration, supply chain constraints have meant that not all seats on these aircraft have purple covers and/or USB chargers. The airline’s founder-CEO Vinay Dube says changes will be made to bring the entire fleet to a planned uniform look and feel over the next nine months.
“The 11 aircraft that will have 2 x 2 seats in the first three rows will also be full economy and we will not have business class for these 12 seats. A seat selection fee of Rs 2,500 will be charged for these seats in the first three rows (without food or anything extra like priority check-in). These 11 aircraft will have 174 seats, which is 15 fewer than the 189 seats currently in our fleet. Within the next nine months, we will have uniform 3×3 seats in our purple seat covers and each seat will have a USB charger,” said Dube.
Akasa’a’s first 19 aircraft will have 189 seats. From the 20th aircraft, a slightly longer version of the B737 MAX will be introduced, which will have 197 seats. The first of these 197 seats will hopefully be the last of the various interior aircraft for Akasa under current supply chain constraints given by seat suppliers and USB.
IndiGo and GoAir have dozens of their Airbus A320 aircraft grounded due to engine shortages. Is Akasa also expecting a delay from Safran on engines? “The first 20 planes we’re going to get have engines on the wings. So we don’t foresee a delay for this country,” said Dube. As a result, Akasa, which has ordered 72 B737 MAXs, hopes to have 18 aircraft in its fleet by March next year.
Once Akasa has 20 aircraft by the summer of 2023, it will be able to fly abroad. Covid has wreaked havoc on the supply chain for reasons such as a factory closing to the world – China – in early 2020 and yet to open. And manufacturers in other countries, especially in the west, have not been able to bring back trained labor once they have reopened because of the generous grants their governments provide to citizens.
These problems were further exacerbated with Russia’s war in Ukraine, as it led to a significant shift in raw material sources. Although it affected almost an industry that was severely crippled. For aviation, this has meant that airlines face delays in getting the planes, engines, seats and every imaginable component required in that supply chain.