Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet plans to buy as many as 30 Q400 turboprops from Bombardier in a deal worth up to $900 million.
The airline’s board has approved a firm order for 15 of the twin turboprops and options on 15 more, SpiceJet CEO Neil Mills told AIN. “It has gone to the aircraft review committee and we expect to sign the agreement [with Bombardier] most probably by the end of this month. We expect the deliveries to commence from June 2011.” The new aircraft would help support the low-cost carrier’s aggressive expansion after media magnate Kalanithi Maran bought a 31-percent share in the company.
Indian airlines have witnessed a steady rise in demand for domestic travel in the subcontinent. Air traffic rose 19.3 percent, to 33.9 million passengers, in first eight months of this year. SpiceJet plans to boost services to smaller cities in India.
“We will deploy [the Q400s] on second- and third-tier cities to further tap the enormous potential of the Indian domestic market,” said Mills. “Routes are identified and are waiting for approvals.”
SpiceJet stands to become the first operator of the Q400 in India, a market where ATR has already established a foothold with its line of turboprops. The carrier plans to configure the aircraft in its full capacity of 78 seats. The airline now controls 13 percent of the Indian domestic market with its 22 Boeing 737-800s and 737-900ERs. It reported a profit of $2.3 million in the third quarter. SpiceJet launched its first international flights to Kathmandu and Colombo last month.