India’s largest airline, IndiGo, expects 35 aircraft to be grounded in the January-March quarter of 2023-24 due to engine inspections in view of the powder metal issue with the USA-based Pratt and Whitney (P&W) engines.
The groundings are in addition to the 40-odd IndiGo flights that have been grounded owing to previous difficulties with P&W engines.
Despite the additional groundings, IndiGo reiterated that it is confident of meeting its capacity growth guidance of “north of mid-teens” for 2023-24 (FY24) due to the mitigation measures it is implementing, and that the airline is confident of meeting its long-term capacity guidance of doubling its fleet by 2030.
“We have recently received additional information on the powder metal issue from Pratt & Whitney and based on our preliminary assessment of this, we anticipate Aircraft on Ground (AOG) in the range of mid-thirties in the fourth quarter (Jan-Mar2024) due to accelerated engine removals. These groundings will be incremental to the current AOGs,” the airline said in a statement.
IndiGo’s overall fleet size as of 30 September was 334 planes, including 176 A320neo airplanes, in addition to over 40 planes grounded earlier due to P&W engine troubles.
RTX Corp, Pratt & Whitney’s parent company, declared in September that it would broaden the scope of recent engine checks.
The issue, which the company initially revealed in July, arises from flaws in the powder metal used to manufacture parts of the popular Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines, which can produce cracks.
About 600 to 700 engines beyond the company’s early forecast, according to RTX, will have to be removed for shop visits through 2026.
IndiGo has retained 14 older Airbuses A320ceo jets, extended leases on another 36 planes, and is in the process of leasing 11 more planes beginning this month as part of its mitigation efforts. It is also leasing 12 additional aircraft from the secondary market, with delivery beginning in January.
IndiGo’s chief executive officer (CEO) Pieter Elbers told media that the airline is preparing more mitigation measures and will continue to explore opportunities to take more planes on lease.
Elbers said IndiGo was awaiting clarity from P&W on the “precise” timing, duration, and impact of the engine inspection exercise on the airline. He added that the airline was taking precautions to help deliver the capacity guidance.
“Going forward, we continue to work with Pratt & Whitney on more information and addressing the situation and implementing mitigation measures to minimize the impact of these AOGs on our capacity in Q4 FY23-24 and beyond,” IndiGo said in its statement.
The low-cost carrier reported a net profit of $22.7 million in the first fiscal quarter ending September 2023. This is a significant improvement compared to IndiGo’s net loss of $190 million in the same period the previous year.
In the quarter ending September 2023, IndiGo reported increased capacity by 27.7% and 26.3 million passengers. Providing scheduled services to 79 domestic destinations and 28 international destinations, IndiGo operated at a peak of 1,958 daily flights during the quarter.
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