Air India plans to lease turbo-prop aircraft to enhance connectivity to tier II and III cities around the country.

Senior Air India officials told Business Line that a group within the airline is close to completing a study on how many turbo-prop aircraft should be taken on lease and on which routes these aircraft should be deployed.

“The tender for the lease should be out soon. At the moment the thinking is to evaluate the Bombardier Q 400 and ATR aircraft. The only thing we can say right now is that at least 11 aircraft in the Alliance Air fleet will need to be replaced soon,” a senior airline officer said when asked on how many aircraft were to be leased.

The aircraft will be taken on lease for five to seven years. Alliance Air is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Air India.

The decision to lease the turbo-prop aircraft comes at a time when the Ministry of Civil Aviation has been urging airlines to enhance connectivity to tier II and tier III cities. The state-owned airport operator, Airports Authority of India has also indicated that it could look at the possibility of providing concessions in terms of landing and parking charges to enhance air connectivity to tier-II and -III cities.

The tender for leasing turbo-prop aircraft will be the second tender for leasing of aircraft that Air India will be issuing this year. In May, the airline’s board approved a proposal to lease 19 Airbus A-320 aircraft, which will be able to fly 180 passengers in an all-economy configuration.

(This article was published on June 20, 2013)
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