June 1, 2019 / 4:38 AM / 24 days ago

India's SpiceJet examines taking over widebody jets previously operated by Jet

SEOUL (Reuters) - Indian budget airline SpiceJet Ltd is examining the prospect of taking over widebody jets previously operated by Jet Airways Ltd, but initial studies show they need significant maintenance work, its chairman said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: A SpiceJet passenger Boeing 737-800 aircraft takes off from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad, India May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave

SpiceJet, which operates narrowbody and turboprop planes, does not have firm plans to become a widebody operator with longer-range flights in the wake of Jet’s collapse in April, SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh said.

“Certainly a gap has been created and there seems to be an opportunity but it is also a business that we don’t know very much about. A higher risk business,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of an airline industry conference in Seoul.

“We are exploring it. We’ll see. If it looks like it is significantly profitable we can do it.”

Leasing or buying widebody jets not previously operated by Jet are another possibility, he said.

SpiceJet took over the leases of 25 Boeing Co 737 jets previously operated by Jet in April and May.

The carrier plans to add another 35 planes throughout the financial year ending March 31, 2020, including some more ex-Jet aircraft on lease, some Q400 turboprops and “hopefully” 737 MAX jets after regulators approve the return to service of the grounded model, Singh said.

SpiceJet had a 13.1% share of India’s domestic market in April, according to government statistics, behind IndiGo’s 49.9% and Air India’s 13.9%.

Singh said IndiGo’s increasing dominance of the domestic market was becoming a cause for concern to the broader industry.

“I think the government will have to explore what possibilities exist” for remedies, he said. “We haven’t thought about it as yet. The government has just been elected and we are in the middle of a massive expansion ourselves.”

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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