Ashwini Phadnis

New Delhi, Feb. 7

THE next time you are travelling to the UK, the US, Australia or some parts of South-East Asia, you may have the choice of flying with another

swadeshi

airline - Indian Airlines.

The airline has received offers for leasing five Airbus A-330 and some Airbus A-310 aircraft both of which would enable IA to examine the option of launching flights to Europe and Australia.

The airline had entered the market earlier this year to dry lease up to 12 wide body aircraft for between five to seven years.

Confirming that the airline has received the offer for dry leasing the aircraft, sources indicated that a decision on which aircraft IA would finally acquire is expected in the next few weeks.

The Airbus A-330 aircraft can carry 250 passengers in a two-class configuration and operate non-stop flights between India and London, Singapore and Hong Kong.

The aircraft can also operate from India to Australia with a technical halt en route.

Similarly, the Airbus A-310 aircraft can also fly to London but with a stop in West Asia.

The Government has designated IA to operate flights to Australia and the US. Besides, the airline has received permission to commence operations to the UK. However, the lack of proper equipment has prevented the airline from launching these flights.

The airline currently operates regular flights to Pakistan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bahrain, Dubai and Kuwait among others.

In addition, the airline is to induct two more Airbus A-319 aircraft in the next few months is also close to finalising the lease of another three Airbus A-320 aircraft.

"The induction of these aircraft will see the fleet strength increase. The Airbus A-319 are likely to be used for operating flights on regional and sub-regional routes, while the A-320 aircraft will be utilised to operate flights on domestic trunk and some international routes," sources indicated.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 8, 2006)
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