Second Indian airline to ink big Airbus buy today

Paris Air Show » 2005
December 13, 2006, 9:21 AM

India’s Kingfisher Airlines will place an order for Airbus A380s at the Paris Air Show today, according to officials with the carrier contacted in Mumbai yesterday. According to various Indian press reports, Kingfisher will place an order for five of the superjumbos, along with a mix of 15 other airplanes, reportedly A330s and A350s.

Kingfisher, which began operations only in May, now flies three A320-200s. It plans to introduce new A320s every month this year until its fleet consists of 12 airplanes by January. Kingfisher’s ambitious chairman, Dr. Vijay Mallya, has said he plans to make Kingfisher India’s largest airline by 2010.

The deal will make Kingfisher the 16th customer for the A380 and the fifth A350 signatory. It will also become the first A380 operator in India.

Kingfisher’s Indian compatriot, Jet Airways, helped Airbus’ order tally more than 100 yesterday just as commercial vice president John Leahy promised when it agreed to take 10 A330-200s/-300s. Only minutes later, Kuwait’s ALAFCO Aviation Lease and Finance Co. signed for 12 A350s. Of course, the ALAFCO order must await the launch of the A350 program, while the Jet Airways deal remains subject to resolution of final contract details.

The largest private airline in India, Jet Airways, expects to take its first A330 from Airbus in February 2007. It will become the first A330 operator in India next May, when it takes another two it has already agreed to lease from ILFC starting next May.

The airline also inked a deal with Boeing yesterday for six 777-200LRs, four 777-300ERs and ten 737-800s. The airline now controls 20 percent of the Indian market and aims to build significantly on that share over the next few years.

Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal said he planned to fly the airplanes to Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Bangkok, subject to government approval. Other targets of opportunity include Zurich, Rome, Milan and parts of Africa, he added.

The deal includes options for another 10 airplanes, transferable to other Airbus types. Leahy said “to watch” for more big orders from Jet Airways, possibly by the 2006 Farnborough air show and certainly by the next Paris salon.

Meanwhile, ALAFCO’s agreement covers “principally” A350-800s, “with some flexibility for -900s,” said Leahy. It also includes options for another six of the airplanes. Airbus plans to start deliveries in the third quarter of 2012.

Established in 1992, ALAFCO carries a portfolio of 11 airplanes and manages 15 more for another finance house, including A320s, A310s, A340s, Boeing 737s and 777s.

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