HomeBusinessExclusive: Belson Coutinho, Co-Founder, Akasa Air On Gender Neutral Crew Dress, Pet...

Exclusive: Belson Coutinho, Co-Founder, Akasa Air On Gender Neutral Crew Dress, Pet Policy And More

Akasa Air started its operations in 2022, becoming the India’s newest airline with an all Boeing 737-8 MAX fleet of planes. The brand was founded by Vinay Dube, Aditya Ghosh and backed by Late Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. The airline ordered 72 Boeing 737-8 MAX planes an industry first for India, all painted in a new orange-purple livery, along with multiple other industry-first initiatives, including a dedicated Pet Policy to allow pet travel, a new comfortable and gender neutral dress for cabin crew among other things. Here’s a snippet of the conversation we had with Belson Coutinho, Co-Founder, CMO & CXO of Akasa Air.

Fleet and Route

Akasa Air, in 2019, signed a deal with Boeing Co and ordered 72 Boeing 737-8 MAX aircrafts in one of its kind deal. Of these, Boeing has already delivered 19 planes to the Indian brand, while the 20th plane is all set to be delivered, all within 8 months of Akasa Air starting its operations. As per Belson, the rest of the planes will be delivered in a time frame of 5 years. 

As for the routes, Akasa Air has announced 17 cities, where the airline operates, 14 of which are already operational, while some of them will be connected in a few days time. Akasa Air is also planning to go international by the end of this year, with the existing fleet of aircrafts. Which means, they will fly either to the Middle East or Central Asia as and when operations start.  

Gender Neutral Cabin Crew Dress

In June 2022, Akasa Air unveiled the airline crew uniform, becoming the first Indian airline to have introduced custom trousers, jackets, and sneakers for its in-flight crew. As told by Belson, the idea behind the uniform was to offer a comfortable dress to its cabin crew, and hence a use of gender neutral design. The trouser and jacket fabric has been specially made for Akasa Air, using recycled polyester fabric which is made from pet bottle plastic salvaged from marine waste.

The crew dress is designed by Rajesh Pratap Singh, the jacket draws inspiration from the Indian bandh gala. Not only the dress, but the footwear is specially designed for the comfort of the cabin crew, who spend long hours standing. The Vanilla Moon designed sneakers contains extra cushioning from heel to toe and the sole of the sneakers is carved from recycled rubber and manufactured without any use of plastic.

Dedicated Pet Policy

In October 2022, Akasa Air became the first Indian airline to formulate a dedicate pet policy, permitting domesticated dogs and cats in the cabin as well as cargo. Speaking on it, Belson said each pet will have to be in a cage and fall under the weight limit. As per the rules, if your pet is below 7 kg, it can travel in the aircraft cabin. Those between 7-32 kg must be checked in at the counter after passing through security and a pet heavier than 32 kg needs to be sent via the cargo terminal.

“We did have a lot of pet lovers asking… We all believe that we need to have an inclusive environment for pets as well. It (the decision) comes out of our love for pets,” Coutinho said. The airline has partnered with an NGO with respect to the carrying of pets such as how to be prepared and what all things pet owners should know as well as the dos and don’ts, he added.

Cafe Akasa

Speaking about the Café Akasa, which is the in-flight catering service of Akasa Air, Belson said the airline serves a wide choice fusion meals, farm-inspired and plant-based offerings, varied menu options like pasta, Vietnamese rice rolls, hot chocolate and a year-round festival menu inspired by Indian cuisines and celebrations. Akasa Air’s packaging of perishable meals is ethically sourced from sustainably grown crops.

Further, these meals are available on pre-booking only and festive season menu is also introduced from time to time, apart from the regular menu. However, the regular food options are also global cuisines, including, Middle Eastern Falafel platter, Vietnamese Rice paper roll, Continental Bagels, Burgers and Sandwiches, Insta friendly Salad and various Pie, Cakes and Puddings.

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