Kingfisher plans major international expansion

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India's Kingfisher Airlines has finalised a new fleet plan that includes significantly slower expansion of its Airbus A320 and ATR 72 fleets, delayed Airbus A380 deliveries and potentially the sale of two A340-500s.

Kingfisher has been working on a new fleet since unveiling plans in December to merge with Air Deccan. The merger formally came into effect on 7 July.

Chairman Vijay Mallya says the newly merged carrier has not cancelled any orders, but most future deliveries have been deferred. Under the new fleet plan, the carrier will take only eight new aircraft a year from 2009.

kingfisher a330-200
 © Ian Billinghurst/Billypix

According to Flight's ACAS database, Kingfisher has 29 A320s and 16 ATR 72s on outstanding order while Deccan has 52 A320s and 21 ATR 72s. These aircraft were originally all going to be delivered by 2013, which would have required deliveries of more than 20 aircraft a year for the merged carrier.

Kingfisher says the newly merged carrier now operates a fleet of 87 aircraft consisting of two Airbus A330-200s, 48 A320 family aircraft and 37 ATR 72s. The fleet at the end of this year is to comprise 103 aircraft consisting of 51 A320s, 42 ATR 72s, five A330-200s and five A340-500s.

Mallya, however, reveals Kingfisher may sell two of the new A340-500s. He says three will be used to launch a Bangalore-San Francisco service, but plans to launch Mumbai-New York with the other two A340-500s may be scrapped. "I have three offers to buy them," he says.

Mallya also reveals the five A380s that Kingfisher ordered in 2005 have also been deferred by about another six months. Kingfisher was originally going to take its first A380 in 2010 and this was later slipped to 2011 due to production delays.

"We're now looking at 2011 or 2012," Mallya says. "We have opted for the maximum operating weight so there will be another six-month delay."

Kingfisher used Farnborough to unveil its first widebody aircraft and new long-haul product. Its first batch of A330s will be placed into service at the end of August or beginning of September and be used to serve London Heathrow from Mumbai and Bangalore. Over the next three months Kingfisher also plans to launch flights to 11 destinations in Asia and the Middle East using its A320s.

Last week the Indian government designated Kingfisher to serve 13 countries from 26 August, which is the day Deccan turns five years old.

In India carriers must operate for five years in the domestic market before starting international services.

Mallya wants to redeploy some of Kingfisher's A320s from domestic routes "as quickly as we can because the yields are better and the tax is lower" on international routes.