Domestic Airlines Can Now Dry-lease Aircraft From Foreign Operators

New Delhi, July 28: | Updated: Jul 29 2002, 05:30am hrs
In a move in line with the new domestic air transport policy, the government has revised its guidelines to allow domestic airlines to import aircraft on dry lease from any foreign carrier, official sources said on Sunday.

The revised guidelines, aeronautical information circular number five of 2002 issued recently, would allow any scheduled domestic carrier to acquire planes from foreign airlines on dry lease, the sources said.

The terms and conditions of lease between lessor and lessee could vary between parties, sources said. The move has enabled Air Sahara to proceed with the acquisition of 12 aircrafts on dry lease from foreign airlines, the sources said.

Air Sahara, in a major expansion programme, is targetting to raise its fleet strength to 24 and increase its number of flights from 53 to 155 by the year-end covering the entire country, CEO Uttam Kumar Bose said here recently. Domestic carrier Indian Airlines is also planning to enhance its fleet strength and has decided to acquire 43 airbus aircraft at a net project cost of Rs 10,089 crore.

The proposal is under the “active consideration” of the government, the sources said, adding that these aircraft would be inducted in a phased manner and deployed on the existing domestic and international routes of the Indian airlines.

Indian airlines, which was to have purchased six 50-seater Atr 42-500 aircraft for operations in the north-east and other feeder routes, is now in the process of finalising dry-lease of these aircraft following a directive from the government which has found the purchase proposal unviable, the sources said.

The Indian Airlines board has already approved a proposal for acquiring 19 A-319 aircraft, four A-320s and 20 A-321s, all installed with CFM-56 engines.

Air India, which is yet to take a final decision on acquisition of aircraft, has however set up an in-house expert committee to develop the carrier’s fleet plans for the next five years, the sources said.

The committee is conducting studies to determine the new generic aircraft type in terms of required capacity and range and the number of planes to be inducted for fleet replacement and expansion, they said.

The domestic air transport policy approved by the government provides for foreign equity participation upto 40 per cent and investment by non-resident Indians and overseas corporate bodies upto 100 per cent in the domestic sector.