According to a source, budget airline Air India Express is looking to lease two Boeing 737 aircraft from full-service carrier Vistara to expand its winter schedule. Air India Express and Vistara are both part of the Tata group, including Air India and AirAsia India.
According to a source close to the situation, the two narrow-body planes will be inducted into the Air India Express fleet on a short-term lease in November and December, respectively.
The move is part of the group's consolidation strategy, as well as an effort to capitalize on synergies in the airline business. Leasing the planes will also allow Air India Express to operate more flights during the winter, which begins on October 30, according to the source.
When contacted, a Vistara spokesperson said, "we cannot comment on speculations".
Air India Express spokesperson was not available for comments.
"Air India Express has not inducted any new planes in its fleet for a long time. Though the airline had plans to augment the fleet substantially as part of its long-term business roadmap, it got grounded because of the disinvestment.
"Now post-privatisation, there are plans to consolidate and bring synergy in operations. Therefore, the airline has decided to lease planes from within the group carriers rather than going to external players," the source said.
Tata Group acquired Air India and Air India Express in January of this year after winning the disinvestment process that concluded last year.
Air India Express, which serves 14 international destinations from 21 cities across the country, currently operates 24 Boeing 737 planes. In 2020, one of its planes was involved in a fatal crash at Kozhikode airport in Kerala.
Vistara, a joint venture between the Tata group and Singapore Airlines, has five Boeing 737 aircraft in its fleet of 53 aircraft.
These five planes are among the nine B737 aircraft that Vistara has taken on a short-term lease. Jet Airways previously operated these planes before ceasing operations in April 2019.
Vistara has already phased out four of these planes.
Vistara is also inducting A320 fleet pilots on deputation from AirAsia India for its new A320 neo planes, which are being delivered to the airline from an aircraft order placed in July 2018.