Mumbai: IndiGo has asked aircraft manufacturer ATR to defer deliveries of its turboprop planes due to a shortage of pilots, said two people aware of the development, the first such postponement by the airline.
India’s biggest airline by market share signed a pact for 50 ATR 72-600 planes last year. It had received 12 planes as of September and was supposed to get 20 by January.
“The airline was supposed to get the deliveries at the rate of one and two every alternate month,” said one of the people. “They will be taking much less now.” The person didn’t say how many planes IndiGo plans to take now. An IndiGo spokesperson said the airline does not “comment on any speculative news” but said aircraft delivery schedules are “often subject to change.”
A senior IndiGo executive confirmed the airline faces a shortage of pilots for ATR planes, but didn’t comment on whether it is looking at deferring deliveries. He insisted on anonymity. A spokesperson at ATR didn’t respond to queries till press time.
Pilots, especially commanders, for ATR planes are scarce primarily because the Franco-Italian plane maker has a limited market share in India. ATRs had burst on to the scene in 2003 with the advent of GR Gopinath’s Air Deccan, which brought low fare aviation into India and led to a boom. Air Deccan was sold to Vijay Mallya’s now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines in 2008 following which there was a lull in regional aviation. Air India and Jet Airways use a handful of ATRs for regional operations.
ATR made a second significant entry into India last year with IndiGo’s order. The airline is said to have aggressively poached pilotsfrom Jet and Air India, but not apparently enough to make a sufficient pool for incoming deliveries.
31/10/18 Anirban Chowdhury/Economic Times