Local repair unit of Pratt & Whitney will make sense: IndiGo’s Elbers | Mint
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Business News/ Companies / News/  Local repair unit of Pratt & Whitney will make sense: IndiGo’s Elbers
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Local repair unit of Pratt & Whitney will make sense: IndiGo’s Elbers

The CEO says it would then be easier to communicate, align, and share experiences

Pieter Elbers, chief executive officer, IndiGo.Premium
Pieter Elbers, chief executive officer, IndiGo.

The Indian aviation regulator’s proposal that US-based Pratt & Whitney set up a local repair unit to tackle persistent engine issues more effectively is a timely and sensible move, a top executive at India’s largest airline IndiGo said, given the massive aircraft orders placed by Indian airlines in the recent past.

“I have read that comment," said IndiGo chief executive officer Pieter Elbers. “As an operator, we would only encourage to have manufacturers close to us. It would be easier to communicate, to align, to share experiences, etc. Looking at the size of IndiGo today and looking where we will be by the end of this decade, we will be and we are on some aspects, some of the largest operators in the world and, from that sense, it makes a lot of sense to do that," he said at a roundtable discussion.

IndiGo is also the largest operator of P&W engines in India.

Recent reports said the Director General of Civil Aviation has asked officials of P&W to set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) unit in India given the large number of aircraft expected to join Indian airlines in the coming years.

On Friday, IndiGo posted a net profit of 188.9 crore in the quarter ended 30 September on the back of a rise in income following the recovery in air traffic. In the year-ago period, the company had recorded a loss of 1583 crore.

However, IndiGo is staring at a second headwind related to engine availability as Pratt & Whitney is set to recall some of its engines starting January, resulting in substantial aircraft groundings. Currently, more than 40 aircraft of IndiGo remain grounded due to supply chain issues following shortage of engines and spares.

“The airline is operating the capacity we promised to operate. Does that make me happy about the situation? Of course, not. We wish it was not there. Yes, we continue to work on the first issue, yes, we continue to work on the supply chain. Yes, I aspire Pratt & Whitney to provide us with the engines and address supply chain issue and simultaneously, we continue to work on the second one," Elbers said.

The airline has already retained 14 A320ceos (current engine option) in its fleet, extended leases and reinducted 36 aircraft, and executed damp leases of 13 aircraft. It is also in the process of executing leases for 12 additional A320ceos from the secondary market with deliveries expected from January 2024.

The airline also did not rule out discussions with the lessors of Go First aircraft.

“We are in touch with a lot of different lessors in the world and wherever their planes are originating from, that is their process," Elbers said.

On the international front, the airline will add Bali and Medina as two new destinations before the end of current financial year as it views strong travel sentiment among Indian flyers for international destinations.

“The Indian customer is as diverse as the country is. We still find Indian travellers who for their first time abroad want to go to Phuket. And we also find Indian consumers who have been to Phuket, Gulf, Bangkok; now, they want to go Tblisi. That we see now reflected in our numbers," he added.

The low-cost carrier is expected to take delivery of Airbus A321XLR (extra long range) aircraft by late 2024 or early 2025 but the range for the aircraft will also depend on what kind of seat configuration is fixed for the aircraft, among other factors. However, the airline is hopeful of expanding in Europe and Asia with destinations such as Seoul and Athens with the new aircraft type. The airline has nearly 970 aircraft to be delivered to its current fleet strength of 334 aircraft.

In view of DGCA proposing draft regulations intended for more rest and reduced night work hours, the IndiGo top executive said the airline is testing a new fatigue analysis tool by Thales and is taking feedback from pilots on addressing the issue. “We are working with DGCA, we take international experience from what is the framework of working hours in EU, the US, how does that compare with India. This needs holistic approach," Elbers added.

While the company had announced plans to invest in aviation-related startups in the previous quarter, Elbers said that the airline has not identified these startups so far. In August, the airline had stated that it is planning on launching a venture capital arm to invest in early-stage companies operating in aviation, consumer-focused and allied sectors such as travel, lifestyle, hospitality and transportation.

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Published: 06 Nov 2023, 11:27 PM IST
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