Air Mauritius has issued an urgent request for proposals (RFP) for additional widebodied aircraft as it continues to struggle with issues affecting its own long-haul fleet.
The RFP calls for an unspecified number of aircraft to be available for lease on an ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) basis. The issuance of the RFP follows a string of issues facing the Indian Ocean-based carrier, including two existing widebodies within its own fleet apparently being out of service. The RFP asks for interested parties to contact the airline by 15 January 2023.
While the national carrier of Mauritius currently operates several different aircraft types, its wide-bodied fleet consists of a pair of Airbus A330-200s, two further A330-900Ns, plus four A350-900Ns. These operate alongside four 72-seat ATR72s used largely for inter-island operations.
However, analyzing flight data provided by Fightradar24, it appears that two of the long-haul aircraft are currently grounded. One of the carrier’s A330-900s (registered 3B-NBV) last flew on January 12, 2024, from Geneva (GVA) to Port Louis (MRU), while another aircraft, an A350 registered 3B-NBP, last operated on January 9, 2023, after technical issues experienced after take-off from Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport (CDG) forced its immediate return. This aircraft remains on the ground in Paris at the time of writing.
To compound what has clearly been a difficult start to 2024 for the Port Louis-based airline, local media outlets in Mauritius are reporting that more than 50% of the company’s scheduled passenger flights have been either seriously delayed or canceled since the end of December 2023. This disruption to the carrier’s flying program has reportedly affected over 66,000 passengers to date.
On January 13, 2024, the airline’s Port-Louis to Paris flight was canceled. Elsewhere on the network, the carrier’s flight from Port Louise to Delhi International Airport (DEL) was diverted to Mumbai International Airport (BOM) due to fog at its planned destination, causing what some on social media described as “horrendous disruption”.
Local reports also suggest the airline is severely short-staffed, with multiple flights being delayed, canceled, or consolidated as a result.
The airline will be hoping that bringing in a number of wide-bodied aircraft on short-term leases will bring some stability to its international flying program while the additional crews brought in with these airplanes to be supplied by third-party wet-lease suppliers will alleviate pressure on its existing crew complement.