New Delhi, March 3: Low-cost carrier IndiGo Airlines has received permission to import 11 aircraft, civil aviation ministry sources said.
The Aircraft Acquisition Committee (AAC) had earlier allowed the Delhi-based airline to import only five of the 16 Airbus A-320 aircraft, which it had ordered. However, civil aviation bureaucrats may have sought clarification on IndiGo’s plans to fly to smaller cities and remote areas at a time the government is focusing more on improving regional connectivity.
According to sources, the airline has received a no-objection certificate from the AAC, the nodal agency, which clears all requests by airlines or private individuals planning to import aircraft. The agency gives approval twice, once before ordering the aircraft and later when the airline, or private individual, plans to import it. The committee is headed by an additional secretary and the financial adviser to the ministry. However the civil aviation minister is the approving authority. At present, Indigo operates a fleet of 63 A320s.
The civil aviation ministry is trying to make it mandatory for all airlines to have smaller aircraft in their fleet to fly to smaller towns. Sources said it might have wanted IndiGo to do so too. IndiGo has only A-320s in its fleet which are incapable of flying to smaller airports. Hence, the government may have sought a plan to induct smaller aircraft.
Officials, however, denied influencing the buying decisions of any airline.
IndiGo controls more than a fifth of the domestic market and is making profits at a time most carriers have suffered considerable losses.
The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (Capa) has marked IndiGo as the third largest carrier in the world in 2012 in terms of aircraft capacity addition among low-fare airlines.
Meanwhile, a Capa report said no-frill carriers had started thinking of buying smaller aircraft, and IndiGo has been evaluating launching a regional subsidiary.
“IndiGo is also evaluating the possibility of placing an ATR (turboprop aircraft) order to establish a regional subsidiary,” Capa said.