Mumbai: Chennai-based Paramount Airways India Ltd, a full service airline that operates with smaller Brazilian-made Embraer planes, is in talks with US plane maker Boeing Co. and France-based Airbus SAS to acquire up to 10 wide body planes to start international operations by 2011.
Paramount Airways is set to finalise the purchase with either of these plane makers soon and announce the deal at the Singapore Air Show to be held from 19-24 February.
A person familiar with the development, who did not want to be identified, said the airline is considering Boeing’s B777 family of planes or Airbus A330 with reserving an options to convert them into bigger type aircraft such as B787 or A350. “The idea is to start non-stop operations to Europe once the carrier completes five years of operations in 2010. It has also plans to start non-stop service to the US,” he added.
Airlines book aircraft in advance as wide-body planes are in short supply and the next delivery slot for fresh order is slated after 2011.
Paramount Airways managing director M. Thiagarajan comfirmed that the carrier is in talks with Boeing and Airbus, though details are not finalized yet. “Certainly, we have aspirations for flying international destinations. But we will be doing that in accordance with the government guidelines,” said Thiagarajan.
The guidelines in India allow only carriers with five years’ experience on domestic routes and 20 planes in its fleet to fly overseas. An airline needs to plan at least three years in advance for starting international operations as it involves route study and government approvals. For insance, Kingfisher had started preparations two years ago for international operations that is set to start in August this year.
Starting commercial operations in 2005, Paramount is currently flying five planes made by Embraer SA. It will take delivery of two more planes in the next two months.
“We are not tracking Paramount Airways since it is not a listed entity. However, having a slot of 10 wide-body planes makes lot of sense as it will help it start international operations as soon as it completes the five-year guidelines set by the government to fly to international destinations,” said an analyst with an international brokerage.
Other regional carriers are also talking to small-plane makers such as Bombardier Inc. and Embraer for acquiring aircraft and announcing the same in the air show.
Singapore Airshow, Asia’s largest, is a joint venture between the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Defence Science and Technology Agency. It is one of the top three air shows in the world and serves as a global marketplace and networking platform for the military and civil aviation community.
”Big players such as Jet Airways India Ltd, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd and SpiceJet Ltd may not place any orders for new aircraft in the air show,” the same person quoted in the story said. He said while Kingfisher may announce some deals on engineering and aircraft maintenance contract, Jet may finalise its engine manufacturer for its planes such as B787.
In the past, Indian carriers had placed huge orders in various air shows. ”Now it is the time to consolidate and focus on the business rather than making headlines by placing orders. Some carriers may even defer the delivery of air planes,” the analyst said.