IndiGo – India’s largest carrier by fleet and domestic market share has been on a fleet renewal spree. It has been persistent with its efforts to withdraw the A320ceo’s from its fleet and replace them with A320neo family – both A321neo and the A320neo – over 500 of which are yet to be delivered to the airline.
While many airlines had a tough time paying the lessors or ended up returning the aircraft and renegotiating the contracts, IndiGo decided to pay up and accelerate the return of older planes. The airline has been tightlipped about how it managed the negotiations, since more often than not – early redelivery comes at a cost. A lot of aircraft continue to be on the books of IndiGo, but have already flown out of the country and parked at multiple MROs/ airports across the world.
Where have the planes gone?
While a few of older A320s which IndiGo operated have been scrapped, quite a few have found a new home. Surprising as it may seem but a couple of airlines have actually started operations during the pandemic!
One of those is Jakarta, Indonesia based Super Air jet – which started operations in August 2021. The airline is co-founded by Lion Air group co-founder Rusdi Kirana but is not part of the Lion Air group – which comprises Lion Air, Wings Air and Batik Air in Indonesia, along with subsidiaries like Thai Lion and Malindo in Thailand and Malaysia respectively.
Super Air Jet aims to be millennial centric – starting with the crew uniforms, colour scheme and more! In a country already dominated by the larger groups and a complex web of regulatory structure, another airline sure does come with challenges – more so in the pandemic!
With the market moving towards the A320neo, lessors have struggled to place the A320ceo in the market again. But there lies some opportunity! With cheaper lease rentals, even the relatively expensive to operate A320ceo can be attractive for a startup airline and that is exactly what Super Air Jet has done! Friends in the industry suggest that lease rentals for the A320ceo are in the range of $ 150,000 per month range, a good $50,000 lower than the A320neo!
Which planes are flying with Super Air Jet ?
I looked at multiple websites – amongst them FlightRadar24, Planespotters and XFW-Spotter and could get a list of 12 aircraft which are either operational or about to be operational. Out of these 12, 9 are ex-IndiGo airframes and a few more could well be on its way to Super Air Jet.
Same same but different!
While Super Air Jet has inducted the A320ceo’s which earlier flew for IndiGo, there is a big difference in what has gone in to make it flyworthy for Super Air Jet. One of them is in-flight entertainment. The airline calls this “SUPER” Entertainment which can be accessed from mobile phones and includes movies, games, e-magazines or follow podcasts. It is supported by Tripper Travel app which connects to in-flight wi-fi (The airline calls it AirFi)
The airline has “Khaki” as its corporate colour which it says comes from the colour of the soil and the skin colour. The use of earth colour as a characteristic for natural, warm, calming, friendly, energetic and cheerful! The exterior of the aircraft is also with the same colour which involves categories of gold derivatives with an objective of achievement, glory and prosperity. All of this falls flat when you realise that the interiors of the aircraft are mixed. Some still sporting the IndiGo seats and some having leather seat backs with light blue covers – going by the photos which have surfaced on the internet!
I was lucky to spend some time in Indonesia for work. I absolutely loved the country and the opportunity it gave me to fly across multiple airlines. I have flown Lion Air, Indonesia AirAsia, Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, NAM Air, Sriwijaya and Batik Air. In doing so, I could sense the dense route network which each of these airlines have and the fares give a glimpse of how competitive the landscape is in Indonesia.
But at a time when the established players in the country are looking for a bailout and most are shrinking their fleet, a new airline trying to set up base and expand is always heartening to see! Its choice of network is largely driven by a mix of leisure and VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) destinations and timings – in tune with current times! Time will tell how Super Air Jet fits into the whole Lion Air family, or does it?