has issued a fresh global tender for the lease of 19 new aircraft, after the financially troubled airline’s first bid in August failed to attract any lessors.
“As part of its effort to reduce costs and optimize revenue, Air India intends to procure new A320s with Sharklet fuel-saving wing-tip devices, powered by-5B4/3 PIP engines, on dry lease for a lease period of maximum up to 12 years, up from the six-year lease period it planned in August,“ an airline spokesman tells Aviation Week. The airline will accept bids until Nov. 19.
Air India had issued a tender for the lease of 19 CFM56-powered A320 Sharklet-equipped aircraft in August as part of its plans to reduce losses.
The Air India spokesman did not provide any reasons for the lackluster response to the first tender.
“Deliveries of aircraft should commence preferably starting in the fourth quarter of the current financial year ending March 31, 2014, with subsequent induction in a phased manner,” the spokesman says. “However, earlier deliveries will also be considered,” he adds.
According to the tender document reviewed by Aviation Week, Air India wants to take delivery of the first seven airplanes by March, four in the next fiscal year, beginning April 1, 2014, and the final eight aircraft the year after.
The aircraft are to be operated in a 180-seat, all-economy configuration.
“The aircraft should conform to Air India’s current specifications—except seating configuration and in-flight entertainment—for the four existing A320 aircraft,” the spokesman says. These specifications would be made available to the prospective bidders through Airbus after making a specific request to Air India, he adds.
Air India was one of the launch operators of the A320 and purchased 31 of the model between 1989 and 1993. Between 2006 and 2010, Air India purchased 43 A320- family aircraft, including 4 A320s, according to the spokesman.
Air India has a fleet of 106 airplanes, comprising a mix of, Airbus, and aircraft. It owns 61 of those aircraft and the others are on lease.
The loss-making airline had ordered 27 fuel-efficientfrom Boeing, and has so far received eight of these aircraft.
Air India intends to replace 14 aging A320 aircraft and another five Airbus A319 aircraft which it currently operates.
Airline companies in India have been facing difficulties in finding lessors, as aircraft lessors have been increasing rental rates for their airplanes. An industry source also says lessors are reluctant to lease aircraft after the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines defaulted on its fleet of leased aircraft.