No plans yet to buy smaller aircraft: IndiGo

The Civil Aviation Ministry has called for the acquisition of smaller planes by Indian airlines to serve destinations in Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

Greater Noida (UP): No-frills carrier IndiGo, which has a uniform fleet of Airbus A-320s, today said it has not yet firmed up plans to buy small planes which would help widen its domestic and regional operations.

"There is certainly a market for smaller aircraft in India. We are looking at it, but at what time we will induct these aircraft, I cannot say," Rahul Bhatia, Group Managing Director of InterGlobe Enterprise, the parent company of the airline, said today.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has called for the acquisition of smaller planes by Indian airlines to serve destinations in Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

Talking to reporters at the launch of an ultra-modern pilot simulator training facility here, Bhatia said the airline is yet to decide on either the number of such aircraft which need to be purchased or the manufacturer from whom the same are to be acquired.

On the issue of the company going public, the promoter of the airline, which declared a whopping Rs 787 crore profit last year, said "it is not going to happen tomorrow... May be at some point, although not imminent".

Meanwhile, asked about high airfares, Bhatia said that would continue due to rise in input costs, especially with the hike in fuel prices and the weakening of the value of the Rupee.

"Airline business is a high-currency business but, at IndiGo, we try to keep the fares low. We plan to keep fares low, fill the planes with passengers and earn profit," he said.

Responding to the announcements about two new airlines ? AirAsia and Tata-SIA ? beginning operations in the country, Bhatia said he was not afraid of competition.

"We welcome the competition. India is an enormously under- served market and there is room for everyone to survive," he added.

IndiGo's parent company, InterGlobe Enterprise, and Canada's CAE Simulation Training Private Ltd, today launched their USD 25 million pilot training facility here.

Speaking at the launch, Director General of Civil Aviation, Arun Mishra, said that India needs more of such infrastructural facilities as there was a big shortage of trained aviation personnel in the country.

The InterGlobe-CAE facility, which is the first centre of its kind in India which is to impart Airbus training, presently has two advanced CAE Series 5000 Airbus 320 full- flight simulators.

The centre would not only provide training to IndiGo pilots but, from December, also to the pilots of Mumbai-based low-cost carrier, GoAir.

"We are confident that this venture will enable pilots to be well equipped and trained in making the experience of flying hassle-free and safe," Bhatia said.

He said that the centre, which is designed to house six such simulators, would be working full capacity by 2017 and would train over 5,000 aviation professionals a year.

It would help airlines and pilots save on both cost and time. It would also help the pilots of neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Mynamar to acquire training.

CAE President and CEO Marc Parent was also present on the occasion.

The facility is the fourth in India which has been set by CAE. CAE trains more than 1,500 crew members every year at its centre in Bangalore.

It also operates a helicopter training centre in the Karnataka capital as part of a joint venture with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

Apart from these, CAE also operates ab initio or basic flight schools at Gondia in Maharashtra and Rae Barelli in Uttar Pradesh.