Indian Airlines goes shopping for 10 more wide-bodied aircraft

Mumbai: State-owned carrier, Indian Airlines, is planning to acquire 10 wide-bodied aircraft for its international operations, even as its subsidiary Alliance Air is planning to buy seven small turboprops for use on regional sectors.

Chairman and managing director, Vishwapati Trivedi, confirmed that the airline has floated global tenders for the lease of up to ten wide-bodied Airbus aircraft. The requirement is in addition to the purchase of sixteen 50-seater turboprops and six 70-seater regional jets already contracted for.

Indian Airlines would like to go for A330-200 or A330-300 aircraft, with Pratt & Whittney's PW4000 engines, on dry-lease basis for five years, extendable by another five.

Explaining the move, Trivedi, said, "We are facing a shortage of aircraft to deploy on international routes." Indian was planning to connect the country with South Africa and other destinations, besides other international routes, he said.

This is a renewed effort by Indian to get these aircraft as its earlier tender for 12 wide-bodied aircraft had fetched it only two.

Meanwhile its subsidiary, Alliance Air, has also floated tenders for leasing seven ATR 42-320 fitted with PW 121 engines.

"Small jets will be deployed on point-to-point services in the regional market. For instance, a 70- or 50-seater would be an ideal aircraft to service the Delhi-Khajuraho sector," Trivedi said.

Indian Airlines, which is expecting delivery of 43 new Airbus aircraft over the coming years, has recently signed a tripartite term sheet agreement to set up an maintenance, repair and overhaul  (MRO) facility for its aircraft with Airbus and Bangalore-based Jupiter Aviation and Logistics, exclusive strategic partner of EADS in India. The MRO is intended to handle life cycle support of commercial aircraft.

"The operations of this MRO should start by this October. This would be the first and biggest MRO facility in India," Indian officials said.