Air India Express to lease 8 new aircraft, add new destinations

Air India Express, the low-cost arm of national carrier Air India, will lease eight new aircraft by 2016-17, increasing its fleet to 25.

''We have already signed three leases and five leases are in the process. We are taking brand new planes from leasing companies,'' chief executive K Shyam Sundar said here last night.

''We are looking at a fleet of 36 aircraft in the next five years, adding 11 more planes which have been approved by the government,'' he said at a meeting of general sales agents.

Air India Express, he said, is deploying new economy class 189-seat planes - B737 800 NG and is increasing destinations from India to Southeast Asia and the Gulf countries.

With a load factor of about 90 per cent, the airline is currently witnessing a strong growth in passenger traffic, averaging around 2.6 million passengers a year, he added.

Air India Express, he said, is planning to connect more Indian cities to international destinations that are already being serviced by the airline.

The new routes being contemplated include Lucknow to Muscat while route study for an Amritsar-Muscat flight is also is also underway, Sundar said.

At present, the low-cost carrier flies to 13 international destinations from 12 Indian cities.