New Delhi: State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is exploring possibilities to foray into commercial leasing of its Dornier aircraft and Air India could be its first customer, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said.
The defence PSU is already making the 19-seater Dornier 228 planes under licence from Swiss technology company RUAG for the armed forces and the European market.
“HAL has agreed for supplying their Dornier aircraft for the civil aviation purposes. HAL is also exploring the possibility of leasing the aircraft to airline companies,” he said on the sidelines of an aviation conference here.
“The HAL wants to lease Dornier aircraft because it recognises that if it gets into the leasing part, then the market will be much bigger. Their board has not yet decided but they are exploring this possibility,” he said.
HAL’s 19-seater Dornier 228 could be useful for civil operations with certain modifications.
Choubey said tha HAL will now not only manufacture these planes for “civilian operations” but also provide end-to-end services as well such as maintenance, repair and overhaul of the fleet, simulator training, among others.
“They (HAL) have also said they will set up a parallel assembly line for the civilian operations at their Kanpur facility,” he said.
Choubey said that national carrier Air India has “tentatively agreed” to lease these planes for the regional operations, adding, “Their board will take the final call. But Air India proposes to take 10 Dornier aircraft from HAL.”
Air India, which has turned operationally profitable last fiscal after nearly a decade, plans to play an aggressive role in the government’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN through its subsidiary, Alliance Air.
Alliance Air, which mostly connects Tier II and III cities to metro hubs, currently flies to 34 destinations and has 39 daily departures.
Under UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme launched last month, Civil Aviation Ministry has listed three categories of aircraft – those having less than 20 seats, 21-80 seaters, and 80 seats or more.
UDAN seeks to provide air connectivity to un-served and under-served airports, especially in small cities, as well as make flying more affordable for the masses.