SpiceJet’s expansion of services to smaller towns and cities with its new Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft is not a change of direction in its business, according to Mr Neil Mills, COO.
Mr Mills was speaking at the function to take delivery of SpiceJet’s first Q400 turboprop aircraft at Bombardier’s plant here today.
“For people who say that this is a change of direction and that SpiceJet is setting up a regional airline, it is not correct,” Mr Mills said.
The airline was only reacting to the lack of suitable infrastructure in the smaller towns in the form of runways suitable for handling narrow bodied aircraft.
The key to the first of 15 Q400 NextGen planes that SpiceJet has ordered was presented to the company’s Chairman, Mr Kalanithi Maran, by Mr Chet Fuller, Senior Vice-President, Sales, Marketing and Asset Management, Bombardier Aerospace.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Maran said that the Q400 would connect Tier 2 and 3 cities and totally change the life of people who currently cannot afford to fly.
While the first two aircraft were delivered today, the next two will fly off to India in a week’s time. SpiceJet plans to start the first service with the new aircraft on Sepember 21.
Mr Mills said that initial signs from the opening of reservations on the new sectors to be operated with the Q400 were “encouraging”.
The first set of Bombardiers will be based in Hyderabad and flying to destinations such as Rajahmundry, Vijayawada, Bhopal and Aurangabad.
New Bombardier planes
As with its Boeing fleet, the new Bombardier planes are also named after different spices. The first Q400 that took off for India today is named Saunf while the plane that held the stage at the handover ceremony has been christened Tulsi. The third one to be delivered in the next one week is to be named Heeng.
The planes will follow a circuitous route to India that will see them halt at Goosebay in the northeastern coast of Canada, Reykjavik in Iceland, Bournemouth in England, Malta, Luxor in Egypt and Muscat before heading to New Delhi. These stops are meant to refuel the aircraft and also avoid flying at night.