SpiceJet set for growth on-board Bombardier
Mumbai: Entering into its next phase of expansion, private air-carrier SpiceJet will begin regional operations from tier-2 and 3 cities from mid-July using the Bombardier Q400 Next Gen turboprop aircraft in central and south India, a top company official said.
The airlines would operate from cities like Vijayawada, Tirupati, Mysore, Mangalore, Madurai, Nagpur and Indore.
"We have selected Hyderabad Airport as the first base for our operations. We will be flying from Hyderabad to tier-2 and tier-3 cities in south and central India," Spicejet chief commercial officer Samyukth Sridharan said.
Deliveries of the Q400 aircraft start in the last week of this month, he said.
"We expect the first aircraft to enter into service and become operational by mid-July. The delivery of the first 15 Bombardier Q400 aircraft starts this month-end and will be completed by June, 2012 -- over a period of 13 months. The order also has an option to purchase 15 additional aircraft.
If this option is exercised by SpiceJet, there would be 15 more deliveries over a period of 24-months," Sridharan said.
The Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft, which can seat 78 passengers, was chosen for SpiceJet's regional operations because it is designed for short-haul routes and has a reputation of being fast, quiet and fuel-efficient.
The aircraft has a unique ANVS (Active Noise and Vibration Suppression) system which renders noise and vibration levels to minimal levels. It also delivers the lowest operating costs per seat in the industry, with a 30 percent to 50 percent advantage over other aircraft on short-haul routes, he said.
The aircraft has been financed primarily through export credit finance from Canada (EDC) with an equity portion from SpiceJet.
"At current list prices, our firm order of 15 Bombardier Q400 aircraft will be valued at around $450 million. The value of the 15 additional aircraft will be similar," he said.
The air-carrier is presently in recruitment mode and is scouting for personnel to man these aircrafts.
"We are in the process of recruiting commanders and first-officers. Unfortunately, there are not many qualified pilots in India for this type of aircraft. So we will be relying on expatriate pilots as commanders. We are also recruiting fresh pilots who we will train and upgrade progressively. The same holds true for engineers as well," he said.
On cabin crew, Sridharan said that the air-carrier is retraining its crew for dual-certification while it continues to recruit to support its growing operations.
SpiceJet is in discussions with several MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) companies and suppliers for support on this. However, it has not yet finalised any MRO to service its Bombardier's Q400 turboprops.
Until a formal deal is signed, Bombardier itself will support SpiceJet to ensuring that it has an adequate level of service support available in India.
"Essentially, we see that the Q400 operations will begin as a point-to-point operation connecting tier-2 and tier-3 towns to the nearest metro. As we scale-up our fleet and operations, we naturally will be able to serve more intra tier-2 and tier-3 markets and it is part of our plans," he said.