Air India plans to scrap 14 ageing A320s after March

State-owned airline Air India plans to ground and scrap 14 ageing aircraft from its Airbus A320 fleet after March, when it expects to replace them with new cost-effective planes, a senior executive of the airline told FE on Tuesday.

The A320s, which will be grounded and scrapped, are 22-23 years old. Apart from high maintenance costs, these aircraft are much below par in fuel efficiency compared with the new planes that the airline plans to lease and introduce to its fleet.

Five leased aircraft (A319s) currently in the airlines' stable, which are 5-7 years old, and whose lease expires in the coming months, will also be replaced by new aircraft, the official said adding, "We are looking to lease a total of 19 aircraft to replace the old ones."

"We are currently in talks with aircraft-leasing companies for new planes. Discussions are on and we hope to reach an agreement soon," the official added.

Even after extending the bidding deadline, earlier, the airline had failed to get a good response to its tender for leasing 19 planes. However, Air India officials on Friday met aircraft leasing companies to rework the terms and conditions for leasing new aircraft, confirmed the official adding, "We are expecting to induct the new planes (on lease) to our fleet by the first quarter or (latest) the second quarter of the next fiscal."

Among other things, the airline is said to be negotiating hard on the rentals of the new aircraft that it plans to induct in its fleet. It could also increase the lease tenure for the aircraft from the proposed six years before seeking a quotation from the lessors again.

The carrier is looking to increase its domestic market share, currently dominated by low-cost airlines, IndiGo and SpiceJet. To achieve this, Air India plans to expand its all-economy flights on the A320 fleet and is looking to lease new planes to replace its ageing fleet.

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