Indian airlines are being forced to wet lease aircraft in order to enhance capacity for the forthcoming winter schedule due to a halt in the supply of new aircraft. India’s largest airline IndiGo announced the operation of widebody planes for the first time ever.
To increase capacity on foreign routes, IndiGo, the largest airline in India, has finalised a contract to wet lease up to three Boeing 777 aircraft. The airline, which had previously only operated single-class narrow-body aircraft, will now provide business class in addition to economy on these widebody aircraft.
Although there have been discussions of wet leasing narrow-body Airbus 321 aircraft, no decision has yet been made.
Rival SpiceJet has reached an agreement with Turkish carrier Corendon to wet lease up to seven Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
SpiceJet was unable to increase capacity since it was unable to get any additional aircraft from Boeing after India gave the 737 Max permission to fly.
Wet leasing, which is more expensive than dry lease and may increase operational costs, is a contract when the lessor provides an aircraft along with crew and maintenance. However, the airlines worry that, in addition to losing out on lucrative airport slots, they risk losing market share if they don’t deploy enough capacity.
Wet leasing is permitted by the overseer, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, for a maximum of six months under emergency circumstances, such as when an aircraft is grounded.
According to insiders, IndiGo will lease the plane from Turkish Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, with whom it has a code-share agreement. The company will use the aircraft for charter flights in addition to its primary deployments on the Delhi-Istanbul and Mumbai-Istanbul routes.
Due to a two-month supply delay in spare engines from US-based Pratt & Whitney, IndiGo has been forced to ground about 30 aircraft. Due to the shortfall, the airline, which was returning aircraft older than six years, is now required to keep them for a longer amount of time.
A SpiceJet representative declined to comment on the situation, but an executive claimed that the airline would be bringing in the planes until it could start receiving its 737 Max, which might take up to three months. SpiceJet intends to start using seven additional Boeing 737 Max models in 2019.
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