Andrew Chuter/LONDON

US LEASING COMPANY PLM International has failed in a legal action to have Indian carrier Skyline NEPC, return two Boeing 737-200s, which it has on lease. The Bombay court has ordered the airline to pay arrears, which have accrued from non-payment of leases since late 1995.

"We've been petitioning for them to return the aircraft but, in lieu of that, we're trying to get them to be current on payments," says PLM. The aircraft are on lease until the end of 1998. Raj Kumar, a Skyline-NEPC director, says that the carrier will be paying the amount, which has been ordered by the court.

Skyline-NEPC operates five 737-200s from a base at Bombay to several major Indian cities, including Bangalore, Calcutta, Delhi and Madras. The airline recently acquired a 737-200 from Indian Airlines, says Kumar, to add to the two PLM aircraft and two Bavaria Fluggesellschaft 737-200s on lease. The lease deals had been undertaken by Damania Airlines originally, which Skyline NEPC had acquired late in 1995.

Jonathan Gordon, managing director of UK company Atlantic Bridge Aviation, which is advising Skyline NEPC on fleet acquisition, says that the carrier has agreed to purchase the Bavaria-owned 737s and expects to complete the deal by the end of August.

Having overcome the PLM action, the Indian carrier faces legal action on another front, following the start of legal proceedings in a UK court by aircraft-spares supplier Gamit. The Stansted Airport-based company says, that it has not been paid for an auxiliary power unit and engine spares supplied to Skyline-NEPC in 1995.

While the wrangles over payments continue Skyline-NEPC and the country's other private operators, will benefit from an Indian civil-aviation-ministry decision to allow them to operate wide-body aircraft. Only state-owned Indian Airlines and Air India have been permitted to use such aircraft in the past.

Skyline-NEPC has been looking for Airbus A300s and A310s for some time, and Kumar says that the carrier hopes to secure aircraft by the end of the year.

Jet Airways of Bombay is to acquire Ahmedabad-based Gujarat Airways. The carrier operates feeder routes in Gujarat and Maharashtra States. Fast-expanding Jet Airways has been looking to build a regional operation in the area, based on acquisition of new regional aircraft.

Source: Flight International