IndiGo eyes A321neo switch in Airbus order

IndiGo plans to convert some of its Airbus A320neo planes on order to A321neos, which will allow it to fly longer distances with more passengers on board


IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said the Airbus A321neos offer fuel savings of 15% and can carry 240 passengers against the 189  by Airbus A320neo planes. Photo: Reuters
IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said the Airbus A321neos offer fuel savings of 15% and can carry 240 passengers against the 189 by Airbus A320neo planes. Photo: Reuters

New Delhi: InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, which operates India’s biggest airline by market share IndiGo, said it is seeking to convert some of its Airbus A320neo planes on order to A321neos, which will allow it to fly longer distances with more passengers on board.

IndiGo, which has about 400 A320neo planes on order, is adding about two planes a month to its fleet of 129. 

The planes are offering fuel savings of 15%, IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh said on the sidelines of the opening of an Airbus training facility in the capital on Friday.

The A320neo accommodates as many as 189 passengers, while the A321neo carries as many as 240. Conversion to the A321 planes will allow IndiGo to make more effective use of its landing slots in congested airports like Mumbai and Delhi. 

Ghosh said the airline may look at other engine options for the next set of orders for the A320neos. The planes in its current fleet are powered by Pratt and Whitney engines that have been mired in technical issues.

The airline’s chief financial officer, Rohit Philip, said there has been no financial impact yet from the grounding of Airbus A320neo planes following issues that arose with the Pratt and Whitney engines. He declined to comment when asked whether IndiGo would seek compensation for the engine issues, according to Reuters.

Issues include starting problems and relay of erroneous technical messages to the pilot. These issues surfaced last year when some of the planes were inducted after a long delay.

“There are certain issues with combustor chamber lining as a result of which we are not getting the engine life that we would have expected,” Ghosh said in January on an analyst call, adding, “There is a redesign that Pratt is implementing to fix this. It has also talked about an issue with the oil seal that has seen some failures. Pratt is working on it.” 

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation has asked IndiGo and GoAir that use the engine to increase surveillance of these planes, besides specifying other restrictions.

IndiGo expects to end fiscal year 2017 with a fleet of 133 planes and may induct more in the next fiscal year than initially expected, it has said.

The airline has a 40% share of the domestic market. It operates 883 daily flights connecting 42 destinations.

The InterGlobe Aviation stock closed Friday at Rs921.85, up 3.42%, even as the Sensex gained 0.21% to 29,648.99 points.

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