New Delhi: Air India would shortly issue tenders to lease turboprop aircraft to enhance connectivity to non-metro cities across the country, airline sources said on Thursday.
A group of officials of the national carrier is on the verge of completing a feasibility study on how many such airplanes would be needed and on which routes would they be deployed, they said. These new aircraft would replace at least 11 planes currently in the 33-strong fleet of Air India's wholly-owned subsidiary, Alliance Air.
The sources said the tender for leasing these planes would be out soon, as the airline was evaluating options among aircraft like Q400s produced by Canada's Bombardier and those by the French company, ATR. The planes would be leased for a period of five-seven years. The tender for these turbo-prop aircraft would be the second this year.
In May, Air India Board had approved a proposal to lease 19 Airbus A-320 planes in an all-economy configuration with a capacity of 180 passengers.
The decision on acquisition of turboprop aircraft comes in the backdrop of the Civil Aviation Ministry asking airlines to enhance connectivity to Tier-II and III cities.
The Airports Authority of India has also indicated that it could look at the possibility of providing concessions on landing and parking charges to enhance air connectivity to smaller towns.