India's state-owned carriers, Air India and Indian Airlines, plan to lease more aircraft to meet capacity shortfalls as applications to purchase new aircraft remain frozen at governmental level.

Air India wants to lease an additional Boeing 747-400 as well as its first Airbus A340-300s on three or five-year dry leases, with the 747-400 delivered in December and three A340-300s in March 2005.

Indian Airlines wants to lease its first Airbus A319s and expand its A320 fleet to help it compete with growing private carriers. It needs as many as five A319s, powered by either CFM International CFM56 or International Aero Engines V2500 engines, and up to six more A320s powered by V2500A1 engines. It already operates 41 V2500A1-powered A320s.

Indian Airlines says it would like deliveries to begin in November and it wants three-year leases with the option of two-year extensions.

Both airlines need to expand and modernise their fleets to cope with increasing competition at home and abroad. Requests to purchase new aircraft have been held up at government level for some time, however, and there are fears the recent change in administration will further delay any acquisitions.

Late in 2003, after years of studies, Air India's board approved an internal recommendation to order 10 A340-300s as well as 18 Boeing 737-800s. It needs to expand its fleet and route network to better compete with foreign airlines that have been given more rights to operate to India over the past year.

Indian Airlines has been awaiting government approval for some time to purchase 43 Airbus narrow-body aircraft. It needs to expand to help it better compete with privately owned Air Sahara and Jet Airways, both of which are growing and which recently launched their first international services.


Source: Flight International