Dhaka: Indian budget carrier SpiceJet has inducted a new Boeing 737 taking its fleet size to 100 following aggressive capacity expansion. The airline has already obtained 22 Boeing 737 Next Gen planes from the grounded fleet of Jet Airways and plans to add 8 more in the next two weeks.
Kiran Koteshwar, Chief Financial Officer of SpiceJet said that they didn't incur any additional capex on these aircraft. The 30 Boeing planes bagged by SpiceJet are all on short-term leases, with maximum lease tenure of 24 months.
The carrier reported a 22 per cent increase in net profit to Rs 56.3 crore in the quarter ended March. SpiceJet hopes to increase capacity by 80 per cent in the current fiscal year, an impressive turnaround for an airline that was on the brink of closure in 2014.
SpiceJet currently has 68 Boeing 737s, 30 Bombardier Q-400s and two B737 freighters.
On an average it operates 575 daily flights to 62 destinations, 53 of which are domestic. It expects the additional capacity to cater to higher demand during the peak summer travel season of April-June, thanks to school holidays.
"The capacity vacated by Jet Airways had to be filled by someone else. Mathematically, we have advanced our expansion programme, which was supposed to happen in 2021 to 2019, by inducting the new capacity," Koteshwar said.
SpiceJet is also hopeful that it will get all its grounded 737 Max planes back in operation by July end. According to the CFO, the guidance given by Boeing indicates that all the necessary work has been done in this regard and regulatory permissions are now awaited.
In March, India had joined the growing number of countries grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes following two deadly plane crashes killing 346 people in the space of five months, both involving this aircraft model.
Koteshwar claimed that SpiceJet intends to replace all Boeing 737 planes with the more fuel efficient Boeing 737 Max planes in the next 18-24 months, assuming they get the regulator's nod to fly. The airline is reportedly also evaluating the low-cost model to fly to long-haul international destinations.
"SpiceJet passengers will soon be able to travel to popular destinations across America, Europe, Africa and Middle East, seamlessly on a single ticket," Ajay Singh, Chairman and MD, SpiceJet said in a letter to employees last week.
He further claimed that SpiceJet will add more than 50 aircraft to its fleet during the current calendar year.