Air In­dia to buy more wide-body planes to ex­pand net­work

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

HYDERABAD: Air In­dia is mulling ex­pand­ing its Boe­ing wide-body air­craft feet to im­ple­ment its plans of adding a host of new des­ti­na­tions in its over­seas net­work in a cou­ple of years. The air­line is ex­pected to draw up a firm plan in this re­gard early next fis­cal, highly-placed air­line sources said. As of now, the govern­ment-owned car­rier has 40 wide-body or twin-aisle planes in its fleet-5 Boe­ing 777s, 21 B-787 (Dream­lin­ers) and jumbo B-747, as against 68 Air­bus sin­gle- aisle A-320 fam­ily air­craft.

"We have not added too many wide-body planes in the fleet in the last cou­ple of years, ex­cept the in­duc­tion of Dream­lin­ers from the 2005 or­der. We are now con­sid­er­ing ex­pand­ing this fleet as well by adding some long range Boe­ing air­craft go­ing for­ward," the sources said.

A fi­nal call on the is­sue, in­clud­ing the choice of air­craftB-777s or Dream­lin­ers-is ex­pected to be made early next fi­nan­cial year, they said.

The new routes that are on In­dia's radar in­clude Wash­ing­ton DC and Hous­ton among oth­ers in the US, Swe­den and some des­ti­na­tions across Africa, sources said. Air In­dia is ex­pected to take de­liv­er­ies of an­other nine wide­body planes by March 2018 which in­clude six Dream­lin­ers and three B777-300ERs.

At the same time, it will in­duct an­other around 30 A320s, in­clud­ing A-320 neos, dur­ing the same pe­riod. "But this will not suf­fice as we will be adding a num­ber of des­ti­na­tions in the in­ter­na­tional net­work and hence re­quire a good num­ber of air­craft to meet the pur­pose," they said.

As per es­ti­mates of global air­craft mak­ers-Boe­ing and As per es­ti­mates of global air­craft mak­ers-Boe­ing and Air­bus, In­dian air­lines to­gether are likely to or­der 1,740 and 1,600 planes re­spec­tively over the next 20 years. Of this, while Air­bus fore­cast In­dia will re­quire 380 wide-body planes, Boe­ing has pegged the re­quire­ment at 280.

Boe­ing's se­nior vice pres­i­dent for Asia-Pa­cific and In­dia sales Di­nesh Keskar had dur­ing the In­dia Avi­a­tion show last week said that In­dian avi­a­tion was fre­quency-driven and there was a mar­ket for 250-300 seater air­craft like the Dream­lin­ers and B-777s.

As part of its fleet ex­pan­sion plan, the na­tional car­rier had in 2006 placed or­ders with Boe­ing for 68 air­craft-27 Dream­lin­ers, 15 B777-300ERs, eight B777-200LRs and 18 B-737- 800s. The air­line has so far taken de­liv­ery of 21 Dream­lin­ers, 12 777-300ERs and all eight B777-200LRs and 18 B-737-800s.

How­ever, the de­liv­ery of three B777-300ERs was post­poned in the wake of the down­turn in the global avi­a­tion sec­tor in 2008 as there was no "can­cel­la­tion" clause in the orig­i­nal pur­chase agree­ment with Boe­ing.

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