National carrier Air India, which has already firmed up its plans to induct 22 Airbus A320 neos in its fleet, would dry lease another seven such aircraft for a 12-year period. The government-run airline, which is all set to take delivery of its first more fuel-efficient A320 neo aircraft in January next year, has recently invited bids from interested parties in this regard. At present, budget carriers IndiGo and GoAir have these latest single-aisle planes from the European aircraft market Airbus in their fleet. As it works on ways to turn around its fortunes, the airline is looking to ramp up the fleet with more fuel-efficient A320 neo (new engine option) planes. "Air India intends to induct on dry lease up to seven new A320 neo aircraft powered by CFM LEAP -1A26 engines, " the carrier said in the bid document. Air India plans to induct these A320 neos by up to 2018, it said adding the airline would be taking these planes for a period of maximum up to 12 years. In March this year, Air India signed a pact with the Kuwait-based ALAFCO for leasing 14 A320 neos and the delivery of these planes is to start from early next year. After turning operationally profitable in the last fiscal, Air India posted an operational loss of Rs 246.14 crore in the latest April-June quarter. For the first time in nearly a decade, Air India reported an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in the last fiscal. Various steps such as rationalisation of certain loss making routes, closure of overseas offline offices at certain locations, phasing out of old fleet and consequential reduction in maintenance costs have been initiated to reduce the airline's losses.
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