Air India to phase out 47 Airbus planes by March 2010


New Delhi : India’s flagship carrier Air India will phase out 47 Airbus A320 planes, largely used for domestic operations, by the end of the current fiscal, a top official said Friday.

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“The company will buy 30 new aircraft by March 2010 so that the phasing out of Airbus will not affect our operations,” the official, who did not want to be identified, told IANS.

Of the 47 A-320 aircraft, 17 are leased out to other companies.

Earlier, Air India had announced that it would replace some of its old aircraft with new ones.

“We have inducted 45 aircraft since October 2007 and expect to induct 30 more by March 2010,” Air India general manager (sales and marketing) Lalit Kapur said recently.

The national carrier had placed Rs.42,000-crore orders for 111 Airbus and Boeing aircraft in 2005.

Air India, which owns 103 aircraft, has currently leased out 50 planes.

The first batch of the Airbus A-320s joined the Indian Airlines fleet – the then domestic carrier – in July 1989. However, the crash of an Airbus plane in February 1990 raised doubts over the brand new technology.

As a result, the first batch of A320 were grounded, but were later allowed to fly by 1990-end.

The first batch also had a problem with its landing gears besides hydraulic leakages, said the official.