Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, business tycoon and co-founder of Akasa Air, has died

Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, who co-founded Akasa Air last year, has died aged 62. The scholarship veteran died of sudden cardiac arrest after a period of poor health. We take a closer look at the life of “Indian Warren Buffett” (a title we know he didn’t like) below.

Akasa Air co-founder dies

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, one of India’s most prominent investors, has died aged 62 after a long battle with a series of ailments. The business mogul was last seen in public at the launch of his airline, Akasa Air, on August 7.

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Known as the “Big Bull of India”, Jhunjhunwala launched his investment career in the mid-1980s while still at university. Within a few years, his risk taking paid off as he made a profit of around ₹25 lakh (US$3 million) on his investments.

Simple Flying readers will know Jhunjhunwala from his recent foray into the aviation industry after co-founding India’s new carrier Akasa Air last year with former Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube.

Having suffered from various health issues of late, the investor was only released from hospital a few weeks ago before suffering sudden cardiac arrest this morning. Questions about his health were raised last week following a television interview which he sometimes struggled to answer. Despite this, many hoped that his health issues could be resolved.


Akasa throws just in time

Jhunjhunwala was thankfully still with us to watch his airline, Akasa Air, launch operations after taking a 40% stake in the start-up last year. Akasa operated its maiden flight last week, flying from Mumbai to Ahmedabad on August 7. Jhunjhunwala and Akasa Air CEO Dube attended the pre-flight ceremony in person, joined by India’s Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala held a 40% stake in India’s new carrier Akasa Air. Photo: Getty Images

Jhunjhunwala said,

“They say India has a very bad bureaucracy, but the cooperation that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has given us is amazing. Nowhere in the world is an airline born and born in 12 months. Normally , a child is born at nine, we take 12 months, and this would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The airline currently operates with two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and has ambitious plans to expand its fleet to more than 70 aircraft over the next five years. Akasa plans to have 18 Boeing 737 MAX 8s in its fleet by March 2023, with the remaining 54 MAXs arriving within four years. After receiving his second MAX earlier this month, his third MAX is already on the way.

Although many people question the wisdom of founding a new airline under such turbulent economic conditions, Jhunjhunwala said he was set to fail and would rather try to establish a new carrier than not fail. not try at all.

Over $5 billion in net worth

According to Forbes, Jhunjhunwala was the 38th richest Indian and the 440th richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $5.3 billion. The investor injected around $35 million into Akasa Air when it was founded in exchange for a 40% stake in the airline.

Akasa Air has an order with Boeing for more than 70 MAX planes. Photo: Akasa Air

Jhunjhunwala has also invested in a range of successful businesses over the years including Titan, CRISIL, Sesa Goa, Praj Industries, Aurobindo Pharma and NCC. Known for his bullish view of the Indian economy and his bold investments, he will be sadly missed in the financial sector and dozens of other sectors he touched.

Have you ever had the chance to fly with Akasa Air? Do you have any upcoming airline trips? Let us know in the comments.

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