India’s Kingfisher poised to make regional expansion

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Carrier seeks turboprops for domestic routes and starts engine search for A330s

India’s Kingfisher Airlines plans to acquire a fleet of turboprops to operate a network of regional domestic routes. In a separate move the carrier has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for engines to power the Airbus A330-200s it has on order.

“We are looking at regional aircraft as part of our ongoing fleet requirements. These are turboprop aircraft with approximately 70 seats,” says Kingfisher’s chief operating officer, Nigel Harwood.

Bombardier and ATR aircraft are being evaluated, but we are not looking at Embraer or Bombardier regional jets,” says Harwood. The 70-seat turboprops from these manufacturers are the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

Harwood says the turboprops will be used as feeder aircraft on different routes to those to be served by 144-seat Airbus A319s.

Kingfisher, which launched in May, already operates leased Airbus A320s and has A319s and additional A320s on order with the manufacturer.

Kingfisher has issued an RFP for engines to power A330-200s on order and expects proposals on 10 October to enable it to carry out a financial evaluation. “We expect to make a decision in the first quarter of 2006,” says Harwood, a former executive with Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

At the Paris air show in June Kingfisher announced an order for five A330-200s. Engines available for the A330-200 are the General Electric CF6, Pratt & Whitney PW4000 and R-R Trent 700.

LEITHEN FRANCIS/SINGAPORE