Indian billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, who last year co-founded Akasa Air, has passed away aged 62. The stock market veteran died from a sudden cardiac arrest after a period of poor health. We take a closer look at the life of “India’s Warren Buffett” below.
Akasa Air co-founder passes away
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, one of India’s most prominent investors, has died at the age of 62 after a prolonged battle with a series of ailments. The business magnate was last seen in public at the launch of his airline, Akasa Air.
Known as the “Big Bull of India”, Jhunjhunwala launched his career as an investor in the mid-1980s while he was still in college. Within a few years, his risk-taking paid off as he raked in a profit of around 25 lakh ($3 million) from his investments.
Simple Flying readers will know Jhunjhunwala from his recent foray into the aviation industry after co-founding new Indian carrier Akasa Air last year with former Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube.
Having suffered from a range of health problems in recent times, the investor was only discharged from the hospital a few weeks ago before suffering a sudden cardiac arrest this morning.
Akasa launches just in time
Jhunjhunwala was fortunately still with us to see his airline, Akasa Air, launch operations after taking a 40% stake in the startup carrier last year.
Akasa Air operated its inaugural flight last week, flying from Mumbai to Ahmedabad on August 7th. Both Jhunjhunwala and Akasa Air CEO Dube attended the pre-flight ceremony in person, joined by India’s Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya M. Scindia.
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala held a 40% stake in new Indian carrier Akasa Air. Photo: Getty Images
“They say India has a very bad bureaucracy, but the cooperation that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has given us is unbelievable. Nowhere in the world is an airline conceived and born in 12 months. Normally a child is born in nine, we took 12 months. And it would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.”
The airline is currently operating with two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and has ambitious plans to expand its fleet to over 70 aircraft within 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 in the following four years. After receiving its second MAX at the beginning of this month, its third MAX is already en route.
Despite many questioning the wisdom of founding a new airline during such tumultuous economic conditions, Jhunjhunwala said he is prepared for failure and would rather try to establish a new carrier than not try at all.
Over $5 billion 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 pumped around $35 million into Akasa Air during its foundation in exchange for a 40% stake in the airline.
Akasa Air has an order with Boeing for over 70 MAX aircraft. Photo: Akasa Air
Jhunjhunwala also invested in a range of successful enterprises over the years, including Titan, CRISIL, Sesa Goa, Praj Industries, Aurobindo Pharma, and NCC.
Have you had the chance to fly with Akasa Air yet? Do you have any journeys with the airline coming up? Let us know in the comments.