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HomeBusinessGovt conditionally doubles wet lease period for wide body aircraft; IndiGo's long-distance...

Govt conditionally doubles wet lease period for wide body aircraft; IndiGo’s long-distance plans get a boost

NEW DELHI: In a bid to boost direct connectivity between India and distant continents, the government has relaxed the rule of allowing Indian carriers to wet lease planes (hire with entire operating crew) for a maximum of six months by doubling that period.
IndiGo had requested Union civil aviation ministry (MoCA) for nod to wet lease six Boeing 777s from Turkish Airlines for two years. Now it can wet lease upto a certain number of twin aisles (learnt to be two which ministry is yet to confirm) for a year to fly as per its network. Wet leasing more than that number will be allowed only if it operates direct flights between India and North America, UK, Europe and other places that come in the range of wide body aircraft, say people in the know.
This way, the Jyotiraditya Scindia-headed MoCA has struck a balance between IndiGo’s request for long term wet leasing of wide bodies without hurting the interests of genuine (at present) wide body operators — Tata Group’s Air India and Vistara — who are investing millions of dollars on expanding their fleet which they will operate with their own crew and engineering.
Comments have been sought from MoCA and are awaited.
The Union aviation ministry’s conditional relaxation for IndiGo comes as dozens of the budget carrier’s aircraft are grounded for months. The reason: Pratt & Whitney has been unable to supply engines and components due to crippling global supply chain issues. While dozens of GoAir planes are also grounded for the same reason, IndiGo has massive expansion plans that are on hold as delivery of new aircraft from Airbus has also dipped down due to supply chain issues.
In a statement, IndiGo said: “We have plans for inducting Boeing 777 aircraft on wet/damp lease basis during the current Winter Schedule. We have approached MoCA in this regard and have received a communication conveying MoCA’s approval to allow Indian carriers to wet/damp lease aircraft for a period of 6 months extendable by another 6 months and that such relaxation shall be available to all Indian carriers on their specific request and the Ministry of Civil Aviation will consider the same based on International destinations that the airline intends to operate. IndiGo is currently working on finalizing the contract for the wet/damp lease.”
IndiGo had earlier this week announced one-stop flights between India and many destinations in Europe via Istanbul. While flights between Delhi/Mumbai and Istanbul will be operated on IndiGo aircraft; flights between Istanbul and EU cities will be on Turkish Airlines.
Current India-Turkey bilaterals allow only one daily flight between Delhi and Istanbul; and Mumbai and Istanbul by Indian and Turkish carriers. Because of the tight bilaterals, Turkish has so far not been able to add India flights. The Indian DGCA had viewed IndiGo’s request to wet lease six Turkish B777s as a way of feeding traffic from India to Turkish from its Istanbul hub.
The ministry decision, comments on which are awaited, could be a win-win if it allows more than a certain number of wide bodies to be wet leased only if used for providing direct connectivity between India and distant continents, instead of feeding a foreign airline’s hub abroad.
Tata Group Air India is inducting five B777s this winter, starting next week, to add US nonstops. It is also going to lease more widebodies beyond these five. This is a short term arrangement by AI till it places it’s “historical order” for a large number of both single and twin aisles.

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