NEW DELHI: Low-cost carrier SpiceJet Ltd will induct five 90-seater Q400 aircraft to expand its Bombardier fleet size to 32, the airline said in a notification to the exchanges today.
Three of these planes will join SpiceJet’s fleet in the next ten days, while the remaining two will be inducted by June. The airline had last week announced the induction of 16 Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft on dry lease.
“As part of our efforts to augment capacity and minimize passenger inconvenience, SpiceJet will induct five more Q400s in addition to the 16 B737s we announced last week. The sudden reduction of aviation capacity should in no way hamper air connectivity to the smaller towns and cities of India and as the country’s largest regional operator, SpiceJet will make all possible efforts in this direction," SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh was quoted as saying in the release.
Domestic air fares have risen significantly over the past few weeks following capacity crunch as cash-strapped Jet Airways, India’s second largest airline, is perilously close to shutting down operations.
In March, founder Naresh Goyal was forced to cede control of the airline, after Jet Airways, saddled with over $1 billion in debt, defaulted on payments to banks and aircraft lessors.
According to reports, Jet owns 17 planes, mostly wide bodied Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s, while the rest are leased. It had a fleet of 124 aircraft as of December but the owned planes have already been collateralised against funds that were raised to finance their purchase.
Since January, the airline has not paid salaries to a section of its staff, including pilots and engineers, while lessors have taken possession of planes after the airline failed to pay fees.
The 90-seater Q400 aircraft is part of SpiceJet’s second purchase order for up to 50 Q400 turboprops placed in September 2017. This was the largest ever single order for the Q400 turboprop aircraft valued at up to $1.7 billion. The airline has already inducted five planes as part of this order.
SpiceJet also operates a 78-seater variant of the same aircraft. Besides the Q400 fleet, SpiceJet has a fleet of 48 Boeing 737s and one B737 freighter.