A-I ties up with ILFC for 4 more 737-800 aircraft
BUOYED by a strong performance in the Kerala-Gulf sector where it introduced budget flights in April, Air India has signed up with California-based International Lease Financing Corporation (ILFC) for four more 737-800 aircraft to be introduced in the sector.
Air India company secretary S Venkat told ET that the agreement had been signed with ILFC last week, according to which AI will begin taking delivery of aircraft from February, 2006. The deliveries are expected to be completed by June, 2006. The lease periods are for five years each and extendible to seven years.
Mr Venkat said Air India’s budget airline operations under the Air India Express brand had recorded an average load factor of 97% in the Kerala-Gulf sector from the time of launch until now, far higher than the expected average load factor of roughly 70% when the service was launched.
Some of this was because of the traffic generated by the school holidays in the Gulf countries, but Mr Venkat said it was also a fact that unlike in August when flights were going full, there was a lean patch in May-June. In that context, the 97% average load factor was “very satisfactory”.
He said A-I was planning to introduce services with the all-budget concept instead of the existing concept where only a percentage of the seats were earmarked for the budget operation. The budget flights would soon feature a brand new team of cabin crew who are conversant in the local language, he said. They are being recruited from south Indian states.
On the issue of a dozen pilots quitting A-I in July, Mr Venkat said the new regulations announced by the director general of civil aviation includes a clause that requires pilots to give a sixmonth notice before quitting. He said AI had not accepted the resignation of the 12 pilots and expected them to rejoin duty in accordance with the DGCA stipulation.
I wish the Govt would move the AI order along and get it signed off. I wonder if they're waiting for GWB to visit India to finalize the deal