IndiGo is reported to be considering the damp lease of five Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from Qatar Airways. The damp lease of the five planes would partially fill the gap in the IndiGo fleet following the grounding of a large number of its Airbus planes due to mandatory engine inspections.
Sources at IndiGo, India’s largest carrier, have advised that the aircraft could be leased for a minimum of six months to cover the peak summer period of 2024 and will include cockpit crews, while IndiGo cabin crew will be trained to fly on the type for the duration of the lease. The five aircraft are currently in operation by the Doha-based carrier and according to ch-aviation, average just over three years in age.
The move would see IndiGo operate the Boeing 737 for the first time, having based its fleet on the Airbus A320 family of aircraft to date. The carrier currently operates 314 Airbus aircraft, although also has a pair of Boeing 777-300ER leased from Turkish Airlines for long-haul services.
The temporary switch to operating Boeing 737s results from the large number of Airbus A320s operated by IndiGo being grounded awaiting detailed inspections on their Pratt & Whitney engines. The airline currently has at least 40 aircraft grounded and expects this number to peak at 75 planes during 2024. The grounding involves 1,000 powerplants following the discovery that powder metal contamination could cause the cracking of certain key engine components.
Since early 2023, the airline has been actively seeking additional capacity to cover the shortfall in its operational fleet. The airline has already leased 11 older Airbus A320ceos, although its attempts to take on further aircraft have been thwarted by a lack of suitable aircraft on the lease market and rising lease rates.
The scarcity of used planes has become more pronounced as airlines worldwide have been retaining aircraft intended for retirement. This has created a shortage of airframes in the lease market while a shortage of spare parts and other supply issues has compounded the issue.
“No lessor is willing to provide planes on a dry lease for a short six-month period,” an IndiGo source told the Economic Times of India. “Obtaining well-maintained older aircraft has become challenging due to supply chain issues. Consequently, various options are being explored. IndiGo is cautious about entering a scenario where a leased plane might encounter issues.”
Analysts at Ishka, a specialist aircraft evaluation agency, have previously advised that only 26 Airbus A320ceo aircraft were available for lease worldwide in December 2023, with monthly lease rates for a five-year-old A320ceo rising by 22% year-on-year compared to January 2022.