SpiceJet, late last year, ordered 15 of these advanced regional turbo-prop aircraft with an option for 15 more. The airline has already announced a strong regional route network from its first Q400 base at Hyderabad, which has been analysed by our own Vinay Bhaskara.
The Q400 aircraft is the one of most technologically advanced turboprop airliners and features a revolutionary noise and vibration suppression system, which makes it one of the quietest, most vibration-free propeller driven aircraft in the sky. With its more powerful engines, the Q400 has significantly better climb-rates, cruise speeds, and cruise heights than other turbo-props.
At a cruise speed of 667 km/h and with most regional routes below 500km distance, the Q400 negates the speed-time advantage enjoyed by jets when the total block time (from the time the aircraft is pushed back to the time it arrives on the destination stand and switches off its engines) is considered.
Furthermore the Q400 consumes up to 40% less fuel compared to jet aircraft and this allows the aircraft to achieve break-even loads as low as 33%.
In an effort to promote regional travel and connectivity to smaller cities, the Government of India has, for many years, reduced levies and taxes on commercial aircraft with less than 80 seats. The “sub-80 seater” aircraft pay only token landing and parking fees at airports, and are sold fuel taxed at only 4% compared to the normal fuel taxes which are as high as 30%.
SpiceJet is configuring their Q400’s with 78 seats to ensure it receives all these benefits and when married to the lower fuel consumption of the Q400, we feel that SpiceJet will be well placed to bring back the low pricing model which will attract travellers from Tier II cities away from the AC compartment of Railways, and expand their customer base.
At the invitation of SpiceJet, for which we express our thanks, Bangalore Aviation will at the delivery ceremony to bring you up to date information and hopefully some good pictures of the event, so stay tuned.