SpiceJet plans to operate wide-body planes next year

NEW DELHI: SpiceJet plans to induct wide-body planes early next year and is looking at various options as the budget airline steers ahead with its ambitious expansion plans, according to a senior official.

The low-cost carrier is looking at options from Boeing and Airbus.

An industry source said that SpiceJet might bid for Air India’s wide-body operations in case the government puts up domestic and international operations for sale separately.

Currently, SpiceJet operates only Boeing and Bombardier planes.

The airline official said that a final decision on wide-body aircraft is yet to be taken and various options are being considered. The idea is to operate long haul non-stop flights next year, the official added.

“We continue to assess business opportunities and such discussions are an ongoing process,” a SpiceJet spokesperson said.

He was responding to a query on whether the airline is planning to have wide-body aircraft for long haul flights by early next year and whether it was keenly looking at A330 planes.

The spokesperson was also asked whether the airline is in discussions with Airbus and Boeing for wide-body planes.

“SpiceJet is looking at bidding for Air India wide-body operations to fulfil its ambitious plan of flying long haul international,” said the source.

Such an acquisition would give the airline a ready-market with both wide-body fleet as well as destinations, the source added.

“SpiceJet, as a matter of policy, does not comment on market speculation,” the spokesperson said in response to queries about its interest in Air India’s wide-body fleet.

Twice in the past, SpiceJet applied for slots at London’s Heathrow airport to operate flights from India, but the plan could not materialise due to scarcity of slots.

The airline, which operates 550 flights on an average every day, has a fleet of 77 Boeing 737s, 32 Bombardier Q-400s and three Boeing 737 freighters, as per a release issued on September 26.

In recent times, SpiceJet has been rapidly expanding its operations and has also taken planes of the now defunct Jet Airways.

During the winter schedule, starting from October 27, SpiceJet would operate 4,316 flights every week, an increase of 46 per cent compared to the year-ago period.

SpiceJet has grounded 13 Boeing 737 MAX planes.

These aircraft have been grounded worldwide since March this year following regulatory directives in the wake of two crashes involving the aircraft.

In 2016-17, the airline placed an order for up to 205 MAX aircraft, including firm order for 155 such planes.

Source: Press Trust of India

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