Chennai-based regional airline Paramount Airways Pvt. Ltd is in talks with aircraft makers Boeing Co. and Airbus Industrie to buy six wide-bodied planes with an aim of launching international operations by fiscal 2011.
The airline, which has so far restricted itself to southern India with an all-Embraer fleet of five leased aircraft, also plans to establish a new aircraft maintenance facility in Madurai in collaboration with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica SA at an estimated $40-60 million (Rs161-242 crore) investment.
“We are evaluating both wide-bodied aircraft—(Boeing’s) 787 and 350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body of Airbus),” said Paramount’s chairman M. Thiagarajan on the airline’s growth plans. He did not specify when the deal could be sealed.
Dinesh Keskar, vice-president for sales at Boeing, confirmed initial talks with Paramount.
Paramount’s five 70-seater aircraft are capable of flying four hours non-stop and may also connect nearby destinations in South-East Asia such as Singapore if the government relaxes rules for flying international routes. Current regulations restrict airlines with less than five years’ domestic experience and a fleet smaller than 20 planes from flying abroad. Thiagarajan said the operations to nearby countries will depend on viability and demand on a given sector.
The two-year-old Paramount, which began operations between Coimbatore and New Delhi but soon moved to flying between big southern cities such as Chennai and Hyderabad, now plans to again connect other North Indian cities with the South.
A new company will be floated for the maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO) facility to take care of Paramount’s fleet of planes. The MRO is likely to be part of the agreement with Embraer for the 40 additional planes that Paramount plans to order for delivery by 2011. Paramount is the only user of Embraer planes in India.