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IndiGo, SpiceJet to add 50 planes in summer amid capacity deficit

Aneesh Phadnis & Arindam Majumder/Mumbai/Delhi 13 Apr 19 | 10:52 PM

IndiGo and SpiceJet will add close to 50 aircraft over the next few months to fill up the capacity shortage caused by the crisis in Jet Airways as well as the grounding of Boeing 737 Max planes.

SpiceJet has announced that it will induct 16 Boeing 737s on lease over the next few days. These were flown by Jet Airways earlier.

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Given the urgency, SpiceJet is not changing the livery and configuration of Jet Airways 737s, said people in the know. Jet’s planes have 12 business and 156 economy class seats and SpiceJet intends to offer premium seating on its metro routes for an additional fee.

The aircraft will be gradually configured with 189 seats like the other SpiceJet planes. For now, the plane’s tail will be whitewashed, or a sticker put on the fuselage, to indicate the new operator.

IndiGo, which in itself has a strong pipeline of delivery of new planes, is not planning to take delivery from the secondary lease market as of now. The airline plans to induct over 20 planes (A320 Neo and A321 Neo) over the next six months, and 20 more by the second half of the year. These inductions are from the airline’s existing order book.

For IndiGo, which owns more than 40 per cent share of the domestic market, delivery of A321s had slowed down, but it is likely to speed up by the last week of April.

“Delivery from Airbus is a little strained because operators of the A320 family aircraft with Pratt and Whitney engines had asked it to deliver the aircraft with a fix installed in the aircraft. The supply will resume at full pace soon," said a person aware of the development.

IndiGo is also expediting delivery of the 236-seater A321, which the airline intends to use on domestic routes. The airline is taking the A321 Neo planes in a 222-seater configuration for international routes. “The plan includes expanding aggressively both domestically and internationally. The airline, though, will not shy away from any opportunity that comes in the domestic market," said the person.

People in the know said SpiceJet is in a dialogue with lessors to induct 30-35 planes over the next three months (including 16 planes already announced), with a view to secure airport slots and expand its network during the summer schedule.

"This is the first lot of Boeing 737s we are inducting into our fleet. The sudden reduction of aviation capacity has created a challenging environment in the sector. SpiceJet is committed to working closely with government authorities to augment capacity and minimise passenger inconvenience," said SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh on the induction of 16 Boeing 737 planes.

The airline expects to induct the planes in the next 10 days, and has applied to the government for permission to import the planes.

The last two months have seen a sharp reduction in capacity in the domestic market. Jet Airways is operating just seven planes now, down from 103 last October. GoAir is operating 10 fewer planes than last month. SpiceJet’s capacity, too, has reduced following the grounding of its 12 Boeing 737 Max aircraft on safety concerns.

SpiceJet said new inductions will bring down flight cancellations to zero and help in capacity expansion.

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