Indian low-fare carrier Air Deccan is acting on its aim to become a competitor on domestic trunk routes by finalising a major fleet expansion plan that will include the addition of Airbus A320s.

Air Deccan, which currently operates ATR-42 turboprops to secondary destinations in the south of the country, has agreed to order two A320s from Airbus and lease five others from Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise (SALE).

Deliveries of the SALE-owned aircraft are to start in July while the purchased aircraft will be added from September next year. All seven aircraft will seat 180 passengers in all-economy class layouts.

Air Deccan managing director Capt GR Gopinath says the Bangalore-based carrier will operate the twinjets on domestic trunk routes, putting it in direct competition with privately owned Air Sahara and Jet Airways, and state-owned Indian Airlines.

The no-frills carrier only launched operations in August using 48-seat ATR-42s. It currently operates seven and plans to add three more by July.

Gopinath says routes to be served by the A320s include Bangalore-New Delhi and Mumbai-New Delhi. He said late last year, in announcing Air Deccan's intention to operate domestic trunk route services, that "we'll have a different model" from existing players, as aircraft will be configured in all-economy class layouts. "It will be the same as for the ATRs - low-cost, no-frills," he said.

The latest possible entrant into the Indian market is Bangalore-based Air One, which is planning to start a no-frills Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet service by mid-year.

Source: Airline Business