Air India Express, the low cost arm of beleaguered Indian national carrier Air India, is looking to lease eight new Boeing 737-800 aircraft for a period of between eight and twelve years. According to a tender released by the airline, Air India Express is looking to dry lease eight Boeing 737-800 aircraft equipped with winglets for an initial period of eight years. The carrier would also have the option to extend each lease by an additional four years.
Air India Express currently operates a fleet of 20 Boeing 737-800 aircraft with an average age of 6.4 years including 17 owned aircraft and 3 aircraft leased from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). The carrier had leased four 737-800s from ILFC to launch operations back in 2005-6, and those aircraft are being withdrawn from the fleet as follows:
- VT-AXD – withdrawn from the fleet as of 31st January
- VT-AXE – withdrawal in early February
- VT-AXF – withdrawal in early March
- VT-AXG – withdrawal in late March
Maintaining a young fleet is essential to providing low-cost services, especially in a low-cost sphere facing growing competition in India thanks to the upcoming launch of Air Asia India. Even on Air India Express’ more insulated trunk routes serving the Gulf, low-cost competition from operators such as flyDubai continues to grow, making it imperative that Air India Express maintain strict cost discipline.
However as the fleet replacement using these new aircraft will take some time, Air India Express has also reduced some of its routes to the Gulf temporarily as follows:
- Thiruvananthapuram – Kochi – Salalah –> 1x weekly –> cancelled
- Thiruvananthapuram – Salalah –> 1x weekly –> cancelled
- Kozhikode – Muscat –> Daily –> reduced to 5x weekly
- Mangalore – Kuwait –> 3x weekly –> reduced to 2x weekly