All Indian airlines need to start looking for wide-body aircraft now as it would allow them to take passengers directly from India to different parts of the world, said SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh.
In India, only Air India and Vistara have wide-body aircraft like B787 in their fleet. All other airlines have narrow-body aircraft or even smaller regional aircraft in their fleet.
"I think we all as Indian carriers need to look at a wide-body option now. But it has to be supported strongly by government policy. If you are going to allow the network carriers, people who are in the Gulf and in the Far East to just keep billions of dollars from their government and keep undercutting us, then it is very difficult to do (operate wide-body aircraft)," he said at a webinar.
During the pre-COVID era, the majority of international air traffic in India was being handled by foreign carriers. A significant section of air traffic of Gulf carriers like Etihad and Emirates used to come from India.
For example, as on February 17 this year, Etihad used to operate 161 return flights per week between Abu Dhabi and 10 Indian cities.
Wide-body aircraft like B787 and A350 have bigger fuel tanks that allow them to operate long haul flights. Narrow-body aircraft like A320 and B737 are for short-haul or medium-haul flights. Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.
Singh said at a webinar titled 'Reposing the Faith in Flying' organised by the GMR group, "We need to decide that as Indians we need to take our passengers directly from India to different parts of the world. It should be one policy. All of India should subscribe to it including the government and certainly, we can do it. We must do it, it is our duty."
The country resumed domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months amid the coronavirus pandemic.