Indian Airlines plans to lease ATRs

The ATR 42-320 type aircraft, currently under consideration, will service routes other than the north eastern region, where Indian Airlines has already deployed such aircraft, a senior civil aviation ministry official said.

The 70-seater regional jets are being considered for low-density medium range domestic routes.

Indian Airlines will induct two more Airbus A 320s into its fleet in the next three months. Besides, it will also lease eleven Airbus A 319 to replace its fleet of Boeing 737-200. The A 319s will be inducted into service from November 2005.

The board of Indian Airlines has also recently approved induction of nine wide-bodied aircraft to service long haul sectors and international routes. Its existing fleet of 65 aircraft, 14 Airbus A 320 and 4 ATR 42-320 aircraft are on lease.

Airline executives say that Indian Airlines needs newer aircraft to bring down the cost of operation and meet competition from private carriers. The fleet acquisition will take more time to execute as the delivery schedule of acquired aircraft will be staggered.

The board of Indian Airlines had recently cleared the proposal to acquire the 43 aircraft. Government estimates show that Indian Airlines will require an investment of Rs15,000 crore in the next five years, which will go towards funding the carrier''s fleet acquisition plans as well as to raise its equity base to Rs1,000 crore from the present Rs107.4 crore.