Air India to ramp up scale with leased aircraft

Mumbai: Flag carrier Air India, in a bid to reverse declining market share, is ramping up scale and has asked for bids to lease 30-40 aircraft to be operated by its regional carrier Alliance Air. The leased aircraft would operate out of secondary airports.

Either infrastructural limitations, or a narrow market base, discourage use of conventional narrow body aircraft like a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A320 on secondary routes necessitating use of small regional jets, such as Canadian Regional Jets (CRJs), which are 50-70 seat aircraft. The larger B737 s or A320s can accommodate 120-150 passengers.

It is expected that the 70-seat CRJs to be flown by the regional carrier would be configured in a single economy class and would fly routes with an average 90 minutes duration and for a total of 2,500 block hours per year.

The planes could be delivered starting in the third quarter of 2011.

Bombardier confirmed that it was in discussion with Air India but declined to comment further until a firm deal is reached.

The national carrier will lease 16-20 CRJs and 10 Airbus A320s and Airbus A330s each on a dry lease. The lease period will likely be of five years extendable up to seven.