DGCA turns down IndiGo request to wet lease Turkish planes
A slowdown in the delivery of new aircraft is forcing Indian airlines to wet lease planes to increase capacity for the upcoming winter schedule. India’s largest airline, IndiGo, has finalised a deal to wet lease up to three Boeing 777 aircraft in order to deploy higher capacity on international routes.
IndiGo, the largest customer of Airbus narrowbody aircraft globally, seems to be charting a new path for itself with wide-body aircraft coming to its rescue.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has turned down IndiGo’s request to wet lease (hire planes with operating crew and engineers) wide body aircraft (Boeing 777) from Turkish Airlines for two years — one year extendable by the same period.
The regulator is learnt to have “perceived” this request as a “diversion of traffic rights in collusion with a strong foreign carrier” that will mainly feed the latter’s hub abroad by bringing in hundreds of passengers from India on wide body aircraft, say people in the know.
A majority of these passengers will then take the foreign airline’s connecting flights from the hub to rest of the world and ditto on the way back to India. IndiGo has only single aisles in its fleet.
As a thumb rule, India allows wet or damp lease of aircraft for short periods of time to overcome sudden capacity constraints being face by desi airlines to ensure airfares don’t go through the roof for passengers.
IndiGo has been allowed to dry lease wide body aircraft by the DGCA for three months. The government has also allowed wet leasing for three months, with the option of extending it by another three months .
“Wet leasing aircraft essentially means an Indian airline is only issuing tickets for aircraft being operated by the carrier from which the planes have been taken. The entire operating crew and engineers are of the foreign airline.
The Indian DGCA does not have adequate safety oversight on aircraft being operated under such an arrangement and therefore wet leasing is allowed to Indian carriers for short periods to tide over a capacity crisis.
At the moment supply chain issues are leading to delays in getting not just engines, but also components. So we have allowed wet leasing for three months extendable by another three months.”Said people in the know.
“In any case, Indian operator does not gain any meaningful experience by operating a wet leased aircraft and so it is not in larger public interest as it does not generate jobs for Indians. Lack of safety oversight on such operations is a matter of serious concern. Operations which hurt genuine wide body (Indian) carriers can’t be allowed,” they added.
Only two Tata Group airlines — Air India and Vistara — operate wide body aircraft. AI is dry leasing (hiring only aircraft that will be operated by AI crew) eight ex-Delta Boeing 777s for mounting additional US nonstops.
(With inputs from TIMES OF INDIA.)