Air India will lease five Airbus aircraft from China Aviation Leasing Group Holdings for 10-12 years as it looks to bump up the efficiency of its fleet, which has been struggling with engine problems of late. Notably, eight of its old aircraft have been grounded over the past few months.
A senior Air India official told FE the carrier will get five Airbus A320 CEO (current engine option) aircraft from the leasing company by February 2015.
According to industry sources, the airline will pay about $300,000 per aircraft per month as leasing fees.
“These aircraft will be used on the domestic routes on the all-economy configuration,” the Air India official said.
The national carrier, whose on-time performance (OTP) during September-October, fell below 80% on key routes in the domestic sector, and below 70% on some international routes, is looking to improve operational performance by introducing newer planes on some of the existing routes.
“At present we have very few new aircraft (with new engine). While the old aircraft are causing us some problems, we are gradually overcoming them,” Ravindra Dholakia, a member of Air India’s board, told FE on the sidelines of an aviation event on Saturday.
Air India currently has 108 aircraft in its fleet. The average fleet age of the airline’s aircraft stands at 9.2 years, the highest among competition. Other airlines like Jet Airways and IndiGo have an average fleet age of 5.3 years and 2.4 years, respectively. Aircraft owned and run by SpiceJet and GoAir have average fleet age of 4.2 years and 3.2 years, respectively.
Air India will also take the delivery of its 18th Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) on December 7, which is further expected
to improve operational efficiency.
In the recent past, AirAsia India and upcoming airline Vistara have announced plans to lease aircraft to spruce up their fleet size. While Vistara has announced that it will lease 20 A-320 aircraft from a leasing company, AirAsia India is expected to get six Airbus A-320 planes by the end of 2014. The Bangalore-headquartered airline will also add another 12-14 aircraft to its fleet in 2015-16 through lease.