Air In­dia plans to re­place age­ing A320s on Gulf routes

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

NEW DELHI: Na­tional car­rier Air In­dia plans to de­ploy new fuel-ef­fi­cient planes on the Gulf routes, re­plac­ing A320 clas­sic air­craft af­ter ques­tions were raised about safety of pas­sen­gers fly­ing its age­ing fleet, sources said.

The air­line cur­rently has 15 Air­bus A320 clas­sic, in­clud­ing one on lease, in its fleet of 103 air­craft. "We have de­cided to move away the old clas­sic A320 fleet from the Gulf routes and re­place it with the new leased A320s cur­rent en­gine op­tion (ceo) from the com­ing win­ter," air­line sources told PTI. The state-run air­line has al­ready an­nounced its plans to re­place 19 A320 planes as part of its age­ing A320s re­place­ment pro­gramme. It has en­tered into a deal with a Chi­nese firm for five sharklets-equipped A320 (ceo) air­craft and all these planes are to be in­ducted into the fleet for the win­ter sched­ule, which com­mences from the last Sun­day of Oc­to­ber. Be­sides, the air­line has also tied-up with a lead­ing Kuwaiti air­craft lessor to dry lease another 14 A320­Neos (new en­gine op­tion) planes, which are to be in­ducted be­tween April 2017 and March 2018. The air­line's nar­row­body fleet fo­rum, In­dian Com­mer­cial Pilots As­so­ci­a­tion (ICPA) had in March sought ground­ing of the 26-year-old fleet of Air­bus A320s by the avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor DGCA on the ground that the planes were not "tech­ni­cally" fit to fly.

"The A320 clas­sic air­craft which are 26 years old [one of the old­est in the world] are be­ing op­er­ated with repet­i­tive snags en­dan­ger­ing flight safety. DGCA should not per­mit AI to op­er­ate these lethal snag-prone clas­sic air­craft for pas­sen­ger safety," ICPA had said in a let­ter to the DGCA, prompt­ing a re­but­tal by the air­line. Be­sides, Air In­dia is also mulling to ser­vice some of tier-II/III cities with nar­row-body A319s and A320s, which are cur­rently be­ing catered to by smaller air­craft, they said adding, "these cities have a huge traf­fic po­ten­tial and could be tapped in a big way with such planes".

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