Domestic carriers look to fly bigger planes

DELHI: Indian carriers keen on experimenting with newer ideas are looking at inducting wide-bodied planes, unlike the narrow-bodied planes that are traditionally flown on domestic routes.

However, the government wants them to go slow, as not every major airport is equipped to deal with the increased number of flights involving wide-bodied aircraft, reports The New Indian Express.

Sources in the civil aviation ministry said it would formally discuss the issue with airlines shortly as they expect carriers opting for wide-bodied aircraft on heavily trafficked airports.

Jet Airways plans to introduce wide-body planes starting October 30 on the Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata-Delhi routes. The airline said that Airbus A330 will double Jet Airways’ current capacity on the Delhi-Kolkata-Delhi route.

Wide-bodied aircraft helps airlines fly almost double the number of passengers and it makes for a sensible and a profitable business case. But due to the lack of preferred time slots for departure and arrivals of flights across major metro airports, the plan could be a dampener.

Vistara CEO Phee Teik Yeoh said, “Domestic carriers in India will subsequently have to put in wide-bodied planes, given the lesser number of slots at big metro airports.”

SpiceJet CEO, Ajay Singh added that there is a benefit to fly wide-bodied aircraft on domestic routes given the shortage of slots on major metro airports in the country. “But we are not thinking on these lines right now. We will first see how the domestic market moves,” Singh said. At present, wide-bodied aircraft are used on domestic sectors by Air India and Jet Airways.

A senior Air India official said most of the bigger metro airports are already clogged and have to further expand their infrastructure to meet with the growing demand. India’s aviation sector is growing at an average of over 20 per cent per year since 2013.