India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has given green light to IndiGo Airlines to wet lease up to six B777-300(ER) aircraft of Turkish Airlines for a period of six months – a considerably shorter duration than IndiGo’s desired two-year long lease.
As IndiGo already flys between Delhi and Istanbul and commenced Mumbai Int’l – Istanbul flights on January 1, these planes will be deployed onto routes between India and Turkey. The aircraft would arrive ahead of the busy Christmas/New Year period.
IndiGo has negotiated a deal with Turkish Airlines to wet lease the B777-300ERs plus an undisclosed number of A321s. “We have received an in-principle approval from the regulators for wet leasing aircraft and induction of these remains subject to further requisite regulatory approvals,” said an IndiGo spokesperson.
Turkish Airlines has thirty-three B777-300ERs and all are operational. Aside from thirty-five ATR72-600s, to date, IndiGo is exclusively an operator of Airbus narrowbodies.
“International air travel is going through a strong period of recovery, and demand continues to rise in the upcoming festive and winter season,” said the spokesperson. “As an interim measure, we have decided to wet/ damp lease certain aircraft to cover the shortfall for our scheduled international operations.”
While the DGCA did not agree to IndiGo’s exemption request and a two-year lease. The country’s carriers were granted a wet lease aircraft for up to six months (three months plus a once-off three-month extension) to deal with “emergencies.” However, capacity or route expansion does not constitute an emergency under the regulations.
The DGCA reportedly believes that safety standards may be comprised of the two-year lease goes ahead, saying that the planes will remain registered in Turkey and operated by Turkish crews and that the Indian safety regulator will not have adequate oversight.
Further, the DGCA points out that allowing an extended lease period may effectively grant a Türkiye-based airline access to the Indian market over and above existing air services agreements. Airlines based in either of the nation can now fly one daily roundtrip on the key Istanbul – Mumbai, and Istanbul – Delhi routes. The DGCA argues allowing the two-year lease will create incentives for airlines to abuse the bilateral air service agreement.
IndiGo’s exemption application remains before India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation. “We are awaiting the ministry’s decision on this issue,” an unnamed IndiGo official told The Times Of India newspaper. “We have sought an exemption for two years as we feel the supply chain issues being currently faced will hopefully be resolved in that timeframe.”