ATR and Bombardier types to be evaluated as Indian low-cost airline goes shopping

Fast-growing Indian low-cost carrier Air Deccan plans to give a turboprop manufacturer a boost by purchasing 15 new 70-seaters as part of an upgrade of its fleet.

The airline's turboprop fleet comprises seven ATR 42s on lease from the manufacturer, while another five leased aircraft are due for delivery from this month. Managing director Capt G R Gopinath says: "We are in the midst of the evaluation and we expect to decide within 45 days."

He says 15 70-seat aircraft will be taken on firm order for delivery from the middle of next year, while there will also be an unspecified number of options. ATR has formally offered its ATR 72-500 and Bombardier its Dash 8 Q400, adds Gopinath. "We are very happy with the ATRs, but all the aircraft are on lease. Since we are planning a purchase, we need to have a proper evaluation between the ATR 72 and Bombardier Q400," says Gopinath, who adds that the new-build aircraft will gradually replace its ATR 42s.

"We have been successful with the ATR 42s and the load factor has been averaging 85%. When we purchase aircraft and we get larger aircraft, the cost per seat will come down, so I can reduce prices."

The no-frills carrier launched operations in August last year from its Bangalore base serving secondary cities. Earlier this year it ordered two Airbus A320s from the manufacturer and agreed to lease five from Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise as part of a plan to expand operations on key domestic trunk routes.

Gopinath says two A320s are now in service and a third will start shortly. Two more are due to arrive in February, followed by the two purchased aircraft from Airbus in September. Talks are also being held with suppliers on the lease of two more A320s, for delivery next year.



Source: Flight International