To avoid further grounding of jets, Indigo wants GE engines for new Airbus A320 Neo fleet to make big RCS push

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New Delhi | Published: August 29, 2017 7:38:04 AM

Indigo – the country's largest airline by market share – will look to acquire 20 ATR-72 aircraft by 2019 to expand its operation to Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS).

The airline has been receiving compensation from Pratt and Whitney for the losses that it incurred due to the grounding of the Neo aircraft, which led to cancellation of flights in the last few months. (Reuters)

Indigo – the country’s largest airline by market share – will look to acquire 20 ATR-72 aircraft by 2019 to expand its operation to Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS). The airline is also looking at aircraft engines made by General Electric for its new Airbus A320 Neo fleet in order to avoid any further grounding of aircraft. At present, the low-frills carrier has grounded eight Neo aircraft since the existing engines made by Pratt and Whitney turned out to be faulty. The airline has been receiving compensation from Pratt and Whitney for the losses that it incurred due to the grounding of the Neo aircraft, which led to cancellation of flights in the last few months.

“Pratt and Whitney is implementing some design changes in their engines and that will take at least 12-16 months. We have to took at other options and are focused on getting as many spare engines as possible so that there are no operational headaches,” said Aditya Ghosh, president and whole-time director, Indigo at the second annual general meeting of the airline. Indigo is expected to bid for the second round of RCS and is likely to add 20 aircraft in the next two years by 2019. In May, Indigo announced that it had signed a term sheet with ATR for 50 ATR-72 aircraft to fly to the smaller cities under the UDAN scheme.

“Flying ATRs is a new and exciting project for us and we expect to get 20 aircraft by 2019 and have opened opportunities to the existing A320 pilots, provided they meet the eligibility criteria,” said Ghosh. The turbo prop operations will enable Indigo to connect the under-served parts of the country, he added. Apart from interest in the regional market, the Gurgaon-based carrier is also interested in expanding its low-cost model on the international sector and has shown specific interest to acquire the international operations of Air India. “Low-cost long haul international operations have huge potential from India and given our extensive reach in the domestic market, we are uniquely positioned to take advantage. We are interested in the international operations of Air India and we will wait to see how the government will undertake the divestment process,” explained Ghosh.

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