Budget carrier GoAir to start international operations from 11 October; to induct 13 more A320 Neo planes this year
GoAir's inaugural flights will operate to Phuket from New Delhi and Mumbai.
Mumbai: Budget carrier GoAir, which on Thursday announced the commencement of its overseas flights from October, said it will induct 13 more A320 Neo planes this year. The airline also said plans to bring an initial public offering (IPO) is not at the table right now.
"We already have 19 Airbus A320 new engine option (Neo) planes in the fleet, and we have 13 more such planes to come this year," Cornelis Vrieswijik, chief executive officer, GoaAir, told reporters on Thursday.
Four of these planes will be joining the fleet next month, he said, adding, "The induction of A320 Neo will go up significantly from next month."
On the IPO, Vrieswijik said, "There has been plan, but it is not there on the table for now."
On the issue of frequent glitches in the Pratt & Whitney engines, which power these planes, the GoAir chief executive said that faulty engines are major issues when it comes to operations.
He was, however, quick to add that all aircraft, except one or two, have the engines of latest standard, with the block seal.
Aviation regulator DGCA had earlier this month informed the civil aviation ministry that as many as nine A320 Neos of IndiGo and GoAir were out of operations due to P&W engine problems, prompting civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu to seek a detailed report on the issue from it.
"The manufacturers have taken measures to address significant problems of engines related to combustion chambers distress and Number 3 bearing issues by replacing Block B combustion chambers with Block C and providing dry face bearing seals," the DGCA had said in its preliminary report to the ministry.
Vrieswijik said that the airline had spare engines to replace the faulty engines to avoid flight disruptions, adding, "We are depending upon engine modifications provided by the engine maker."
He, however, said that GoAir was "absolutely happy" with the performance of A320 Neos, which are 80-90 percent fuel efficient compared with A320 Ceos (current engine options) and ruled out going for engines made by rival CFM International at this stage as those engines also had issues.
"As an airline, we are having negotiations with aircraft and engine manufacturer and other suppliers. For compensation, we are always in negotiations with Airbus and Pratt & Whitney," he said.
The GoAir official also said that the airline was looking to sub-lease up to nine A320 Ceos, which burn 20 percent more fuel compared with A320 Neos, as part of its cost-cutting measures.
The airline has some 17 A320 Ceos in its fleet, he added.
Stating that gaining market share was not the objective of the airline, he said, "We want to see profitable growth. We will expand network whether domestic or international if it spurs growth."
He also said that business is taking a hit for everyone in the industry amid high fuel cost and continuous slide in rupee against the US dollar.
"My mission is to drive cost out of the company, because you make margins only by lowering the cost. The low-cost carriers in Europe make profit in good and bad times. In bad times, they make less profit, and in good times, they make a lot of profit," he added.
Going forward, apart from reducing cost, GoAir plans to introduce profitability enhancement plan and is also looking at enhancing revenues, he said.
The airline is also looking and studying at larger planes for long-haul operations, which is very challenging and cost sensitive, according to Vrieswijik.
"I am not saying we are doing it. We are studying. We will look at existing models like AirAsia for low-cost, long-haul model," he added.
GoAir will start international operations from 11 October, Vrieswijik said on Thursday.
The inaugural flights will operate to Phuket from New Delhi and Mumbai.
The airline will also launch flights to Male in Maldives from Mumbai and Delhi on October 14.
The bookings for the maiden international flight will commence soon, a source had earlier said.
The city-based airline will be the sixth domestic carrier to have international operations.
GoAir became eligible to fly overseas two years ago when it took delivery of its 20th aircraft, which was also the first Airbus A320 Neo for the airline.
GoAir, which launched its domestic operations in November 2005, was granted rights in August 2016 to operate to nine countries, including China, Vietnam, Maldives, Kazakhstan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, among others.
The airline had planned to launch services on the international routes in October last but had to defer the plan due to the grounding of some of the Pratt & Whitney engine-powered Airbus A320 Neo planes owing to engine glitches.
GoAir operates over 1,544 weekly flights across 23 destinations with a fleet of 38 Airbus A320 planes, including 19 A320 Neos.
Currently, national carrier Air India, its subsidiary Air India Express, private carriers Jet Airways, IndiGo and SpiceJet have international flights. PTI IAS GK ANU
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