Rakesh Jhunjhunwala speaks during an interview in Mumbai. Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi- Akasa Air, backed by Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, said on Monday it expects to start flying next year after getting initial clearance from the civil aviation ministry to launch the country's latest ultra-low cost carrier.

The approval comes at a time when India's aviation industry is reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with airlines losing billions of dollars, but the sector's long-term prospect makes the country a hot market for planemakers Boeing and Airbus.

SNV Aviation, which will fly under the Akasa Air brand, said in a statement it has received a "no objection certificate" from the ministry and expects to begin flights across India in the summer of 2022.

Akasa Air CEO Vinay Dube said in the statement the airline will continue to work with the regulatory authorities on all additional compliances required to successfully launch. The company did not elaborate but under Indian requirements to start an airline, it will also need clearance from aviation watchdog, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Jhunjhunwala, known as "India's Warren Buffett" for his successful stock investments, teamed up with Aditya Ghosh, former CEO of IndiGo - the country's biggest carrier - and Dube to launch the carrier to tap into demand for domestic air travel.

Investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala poses for a picture in his office in Mumbai. Image Credit: Reuters

Dube is former CEO of Jet Airways - once India's biggest private carrier before it stopped flying in April 2019 after running out of cash, owing billions to lenders and leaving thousands without jobs. Jet was recently bailed out of bankruptcy.

Ghosh, who spent a decade with IndiGo, was credited with IndiGo's early success.

While details of the new venture, including any decision on plane orders, have not been formally disclosed, Akasa is already moving towards what could be one of the biggest deals of the year outside the United States to acquire purchased or leased Boeing 737 planes, Reuters reported in July.