Qantas buys Pacific Airlines

Australia's Qantas Airways has signed an agreement to buy 30% of Vietnam's Pacific Airlines after securing approval from the Vietnamese government. Pacific is Vietnam's second-largest airline after state-owned flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, operating single-class Boeing 737-400s within Vietnam, as well as to Taiwan. It recently overhauled its operations into those of a no-frills, low-cost carrier. Qantas, which in January revealed it was negotiating to buy a stake in Pacific, expects the deal to be formally completed within a few months.

New carrier in India

MDLR Airlines has become the latest entrant in the fast-growing Indian market. MDLR launched in late April with flights serving Chandigarh, Delhi, Kolkata and Ranchi, and plans to expand its network in the coming months to include Bhavnagar, Jaipur, Mumbai and Surat. The new full-service airline has two BAE Systems Avro RJ70s and plans to add three more this year.

Air-India adds freighters

Air-India has taken delivery of its first freighter, an Airbus A310 that was converted from passenger configuration. Air India says the freighter is due to enter service in June on international routes, mainly to the Middle East. The aircraft was converted into a freighter by EADS EFW in Dresden, Germany. A second A310 is being converted now and more may be modified in future.

Lion takes first 737-900ER

Indonesia's Lion Air has begun operating the first Boeing 737-900ER on domestic routes. The carrier took delivery of its first of 60 737-900ERs in April and put it into service in early May. Lion is the launch customer for the new larger, longer-range version of the 737. The 737-900 will replace all older-generation 737s and Boeing MD-series aircraft in Lion's fleet.

SpiceJet expands

Indian low-fare carrier SpiceJet has ordered 10 more Boeing 737-800s for delivery between 2009 and 2011. It already operates 11 737-800s and earlier ordered 15 additional 737-800s plus five 737-900ERs.

Source: Airline Business