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Spicejet May Place Order For New Aircraft

Spicejet chief says a full-time CEO not required at the moment, particularly when the airline has turned profitable

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No-frills carrier SpiceJet, which is in discussions with global aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus for quite some time now, may place order for new aircraft by the end of the current quarter, airline chief Ajay Singh said.

Singh had recently said that SpiceJet was planning to induct over 100 narrow-body planes in its fleet to tap growing domestic demand, which has seen over 20 per cent spike in the last many months.

"We are talking to both Airbus and Boeing. Both of them want to be part of this exciting growth story. We hope that we will place that order soon," Singh said without revealing the order size.

"Hopefully we can complete the entire process in the next two months or so," he added.

The Gurgaon-based airline at present operates 298 daily flights to 41 destinations, including 35 domestic and six international ones.

Singh, took control of the then loss-making carrier in January 2015 by acquiring 58.46 per cent shares from Maran and his associate company Kal Airways.

"I don't want to comment (on order size) because that is part of the negotiation. In addition to Boeing and Airbus order, we are also looking at increasing the number of Bombardier Q400s as well to 17 from the current 14," he said.

SpiceJet is exploring placing orders in that sector also to participate in the Government's proposed regional connectivity scheme, he added.

"We are looking to place more aircraft into our fleet. We are looking to get more regional connectivity. More international connectivity," he added.

Replying to a query on the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), he said a full time CEO was not required at the moment, particularly when the airline has turned profitable.

"I have been officiating as CEO for the past one and half years. I think that experience is pretty good for me and Spicejet. As you know we took over the airline in 2015 which was in deep distress and owed lot of money to people and had practically shutdown," Singh added.

Net Profit
For the financial year 2015-16, SpiceJet saw its net profit surging to Rs 407.19 crore against a net loss of Rs 687.05 crore in 2014-15 fiscal.

Aided by higher revenues and lower fuel costs, SpiceJet remained profitable for the fifth straight quarter posting a net profit of Rs 73.19 crore in the fourth quarter of last financial year.

"Today we are in a situation where for 12 months in a row the load factor is 92 and above and the company is significantly profitable and made close to Rs 500 crore in the last year. So I think we have done a fair job as management of the company and in the future we will see if there is any requirement to change that position," he said.

On the performance expectation this fiscal, Singh said the growth would be similar to that of last year's.

"It looks like this year growth is in the same order little in excess that happened last year," he said.

He said the priority is to enhance or improve network, to improve on-time performance, to consolidate the network to ensure that the airline fly in profitable routes.

"We are looking to place more aircraft into our fleet. We are looking to get more regional connectivity. More international connectivity," he added.

On the Delhi High Court order of depositing Rs 580 crore with it, he said "I do not want to comment. That is sub judice. Spicejet is taking appropriate legal steps in that regard. We will study that order first."

SpiceJet was today directed to deposit Rs 579 crore in 12 months before the Delhi High Court which asked the airline and Sun Group chief Kalanithi Maran alongwith his Kal Airways to appoint an arbitral tribunal to decide the share transfer dispute between them in a year.

The order came on Maran and his airline's plea for issuing them stock warrants in SpiceJet as per a sale purchase agreement (SPA) of 2015 which led to transfer of ownership of the budget carrier to its co-founder Ajay Singh.

Meanwhile, Spicejet on Friday launched "Smart Mobile Check-in at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad. Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju unveiled the facility.

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