Indian budget airline to buy 30 French ATR planes

8th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

BANGALORE, India, Feb 8 (AFP) - India's budget airline, Air Deccan, will buy 30 new aircraft from France's Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) in a deal worth USD 528 million (EUR 413 million), the chief of the firm told AFP Tuesday.

BANGALORE, India, Feb 8 (AFP) - India's budget airline, Air Deccan, will buy 30 new aircraft from France's Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) in a deal worth USD 528 million (EUR 413 million), the chief of the firm told AFP Tuesday.

"We will sign the contract on Thursday. We will purchase 15 ATR 72-500 outright and the rest on lease," said Air Deccan managing director G.R Gopinath.

He said the deal would be worth about USD 528 million (EUR 413 million) according to the sticker price.

"After negotiations with ATR we got a good discount but I cannot reveal the exact sum. Lets just say that after the discount each plane is costing around USD 1 million (EUR 780,000) less," said Gopinath.

Delivery of the new 70-seat passenger aircraft will start in May 2005, Gopinath said ahead of an Aero India industry show which starts on Wednesday in Bangalore and runs to February 13.

"Deliveries will begin in May and be spread over five years to connect small towns in India to metro cities," said Gopinath.

Air Deccan has three Airbus 320 jets and seven French-made ATR 48-seater aircraft.

It plans to launch four more Airbus 320s in February-March and another four are on option "but if demand keeps up with projections, they will also be bought soon," said Gopinath.

India launched its open skies policy in the 1990s, allowing private players to enter the domestic airline market previously dominated by state-run carriers.

Air Deccan has styled itself along the lines of the Irish zero-frill carrier Ryanair and British low-cost carrier easyJet and offers fares 30 to 40 percent below those of full-service Indian carriers.

State-owned Indian Airlines and private operators Jet Airways and Sahara command the lion's share of the domestic market but Air Deccan has been snipping away at it since it took to the skies in 2003.

Air Deccan hopes to turn in a "modest profit" for the financial year to March 2005 after turning "cash positive four months ago," Gopinath said.

The airlines hopes to clock revenues of USD 125 million (EUR 97.7 million) for this financial year, up sharply from last year's USD 15.2 million (EUR 11.8 million) in revenues and expects to carry nearly two million passengers.

Aviation analysts say there is a huge untapped market for low-cost carriers in the country of more than one billion people.

Just about 15 million people travel by air annually in India against three million passengers who fly daily in the United States even though the US population is around one-quarter that of India.

The number of passengers is expected to grow to 50 million in five years as a booming economy and new low cost carriers stimulate demand.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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