Spice to buy 30 Bombardier jets

Spice to buy 30 Bombardier jets

New Delhi: Low-cost carrier Spice Jet said Wednesday it plans to buy as many as 30 planes from Canada’s Bombardier in a deal worth up to $900 million intended to help boost its fleet.

The airline’s board approved the order for 15 turboprop planes along with an option to buy 15 more as part of a drive to boost services to smaller cities in India as demand for air travel expands.

“The enormous potential in the Indian domestic market can be further tapped by enhancing regional connectivity in the country by focusing on" smaller cities, said SpiceJet chief executive Neil Mills.

The budget carrier, partly owned by media magnate Kalanithi Maran, is “buying the Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft from Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. to facilitate this objective," he said.

The Q400 is rated “the quietest, most vibration-free" turboprop in the skies and uses up to 40 percent less fuel than comparable regional jets, Mills said in an emailed statement.

The company, which has a 13% market share with its 22 aircraft, is looking “at an aggressive addition to our fleet".

Deliveries of the Q400, the first ever to India, are due to begin in the first half of 2011, SpiceJet said.

Low-fare carriers increased their share of the passenger market to 71% from 61% in the three months to September from a year earlier.

The plane purchase announcement came as the airline reported it swung to a profit of 10.10 crore ($2.30 million) in the three months ended September from a loss of one billion rupees a year earlier.

Maran, founder of Sun TV, owns a 31% interest in SpiceJet through his unlisted aviation firm Kal Airways Pvt.

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