Low cost airline Air Asia India has declared they no longer want Jet Airways’ redundant Boeing 737s for their fleet. Announced this week, the carrier sites issues around retraining pilots, arranging maintenance and coping with different seat configurations as catalysts for their decision.
With Jet Airways no longer flying and looking to be moments away from declaring bankruptcy, rival carriers are clamoring to fill the gaps. From European airlines adding capacity to India to domestic competitors seeking to snap up their slots at busy Indian airports, it’s been a tsunami of activity since they stopped flying last month.
Just this week, valuable slots at Schiphol which used to belong to Jet were given to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. This follows a last minute detention of Jet Airways’ ex-CEO, who has been forbidden from leaving the country pending further investigation.
As such, Air Asia India were keen to acquire some of the grounded carrier’s fleet of Boeing 737s, in a bid to boost their own capacity on domestic routes. However, it now appears that the low cost airline has rethought its decision and is pulling out of the deal.
Air Asia pull out of the running
Air Asia India had indicated an interest in taking on a number of the grounded carrier’s 737 aircraft, in a bid to secure valuable landing slots at Mumbai and Delhi. However, it now appears that this plan has been dropped, with News 18 reporting an industry source as saying:
“Air Asia India had informed the aviation regulator about their plan to lease some of the B737 airplanes that were operated by Jet Airways. But later it did not follow up. Now, the idea has finally been dropped,”
As a budget carrier, Air Asia India need to be on top of their outgoings at all times. As such, their decision to pull out of the acquisition of the Jet Airways Boeing 737s is probably a wise move. Being a one-aircraft operator is one of the best ways to keep costs down and taking on a new type of aircraft was going to come at a huge cost to Air Asia India.
According to reporting, the carrier decided not to pursue the plan due to complications with the different seating configuration, maintenance and skill requirements. The source went on to say:
“In low-cost airline business, one-type of the fleet is advisable,”
As such, Air Asia India remain focused on building their fleet of A320 aircraft instead. They plan to double their fleet size over the next 18 months from the current level of 21 A320s.
Why did Air Asia want the Boeing 737s?
Previously, Air Asia India had applied to add the 737 to its air operators certificate. As an Airbus only airline, it needed permission to fly the new type. This was in a bid to snag the spare airport slots at Delhi and Mumbai, freed up by the no longer flying Jet Airways.
The caveat was that the airlines needed to start using them immediately, and as such, they needed spare aircraft. With no additional capacity in their existing fleet, it made sense for Air Asia India to look to take on Jet Airways’ redundant 737s, if only to secure those slots.
However, it seems that common sense prevailed. As with most low cost airlines, Air Asia India stick to one type of aircraft. This significantly reduces some of the cost associated with running an airline, from tooling to mechanic expertise to pilot training and even spare parts.
It seems that now Air Asia have realized the amount of investment required of them to actually incorporate the Boeing 737s into their fleet is just too great. Instead, other operators will benefit from the ‘spare’ aircraft, with SpiceJet taking on 22 already and a further eight planned to be added soon. As a result, they secured 130 slot pairs at Delhi and Mumbai.
Vistara have also added 10 ex-Jet Airways airframes and received 110 slots from the pool. While IndiGo aren’t taking any new aircraft from Jet, they have acquired 285 pilots from the failed carrier. However, they are now faced with the expense of retraining these pilots to fly their fleet of A320neos.