Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Sep 19, 2002
Logistics - Airlines
Corporate - Announcements
Air India to purchase 17 long-range aircraft
MUMBAI, Sept. 18
THE board of directors of Air India today approved the purchase of 17 long-range aircraft, a shopping list that could be billed upwards of $2.5 billion.
An airline official, however, said the cost of acquisition would be known only after the detailed list of the type of aircraft is finalised and bids are received from various manufacturers. He said aircraft of the size the carrier needs may cost around $150 million apiece.
The last time AI purchased aircraft was in 1993 when it placed an order for six Boeing 747-400s. The new acquisition would be both for expansion as well as for replacement of aged aircraft. Currently, AI has a fleet of 26 aircraft, including six 747-400s, 13 A-300s and three 747-300s.
The airline is also planning to purchase short-haul airplanes. The AI board has set up a committee under the Director of Operations, Capt. M.K. Hathi, to finalise the number and type of short-haul aircraft (160-plus seats) required by the carrier. The committee will also evolve the ground rules for the induction of long-range aircraft.
The much-awaited decision to acquire aircraft is as per the recommendations of the expert committee as also the sub-committee of the board. "The board of directors endorsed the international route pattern proposed by the expert committee for inducting long-range aircraft,'' Mr Jitendra Bharagav, spokesman for the national carrier, said.
The spokesman said the long-range aircraft would be of seating capacity 250-plus in three-class configuration. The expert committee had recommended a two-class configuration. However, the board, in view of the changing passenger profile, decided to have a three-class configuration, he said.
The board felt that at least half of 250-plus long-range aircraft should be capable of flying non-stop on the India-US route, the spokesman said.
The board felt that AI should also evaluate the requirement of large capacity long-range aircraft of 400-plus capacity for deployment in the high-density routes. Air India currently has six 747-400 aircraft.
The board also approved the appointment of five directors, Capt. Hathi (Operations), Capt. D. Mazumdar (Air safety), Mr Amod Sharma (Corporate affairs), Mr S. Vasu (Internal audit), Mr B.P. Gaire (Medical). Mr S. Venkat has been appointed Company Secretary.
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