Indian Airlines Rely on Sharklets to Reduce Fuel Costs

Tuesday, 12th February 2013 at 03:04am

Most Indian carriers are struggling to keep its operations going. With the steady unabated increase of jet fuel prices in the market, many local airlines, especially budget carriers, are turning to sharklets device fitted on their aircraft.

The sharklets are fitted onto the tip of the aircraft's wings to reduce interference drag. The technology reduces the fuel burn by almost 4%, thereby allowing operators to save on fuel costs.

The first Indian airline to acquire the aircraft fitted with the sharklets technology is IndiGo when it took delivery of its first A320 aircraft late last month. IndiGo, India's largest low-cost carrier, is expecting to have at least 67 more A320s equipped with the fuel-saving technology through 2016.

The sharklets are optional in A320 family but a standard feature in A320neo family. IndiGo has an outstanding order from Airbus 150 A320neo aircraft with its first delivery commencing on 2016.

Another local airline who received its first A320 fitted with sharklets is GoAir. The youngest of the low-cost carriers in India, it is expecting to take delivery of 7 more sharklets-fitted A320 aircraft this year through June 2014.

According to an official, the sharklets technology will enable them to save on fuel cost by as much as 4%. GoAir is said to be one of only five airlines in the world to operate the A320 aircraft with the sharklets. Last year, the budget carrier placed an order for 72 A320neos in addition to the 20 A320s it has already ordered.

The new Boeing planes of SpiceJet, another low-cost Indian carrier, are already fitted with winglets, its version of Airbus' sharklets.

The sharklets technology, according to the manufacturer, will offer airline operators the flexibility of either increasing it payload capability of up to 450 kg or adding 100 nautical miles in its range.

According to IndiGo's CEO, Aditya Ghosh, the airline is now operating some of the world's youngest fleet. Their investment in sharklets will help them save more on operating costs.

IndiGo is said to be the first airline in India to acquire the A320neo aircraft when it placed an order for 150 of the said variant in 2011. As of January 2013, the airline has an all-Airbus fleet of 63 A320 aircraft.

IndiGo's investment in sharklets technology, according to John Leahy, CEO for customers at Airbus, is a smart move considering the current high jet fuel prices. The technology is aimed at reducing fuel burn in aircraft by almost 4%. Thus, the airline will be able to save on fuel costs significantly.

Malaysia-based AirAsia was said to be the first airline in the world to have the sharklets-equipped A320 planes in its fleet when it took delivery of the said aircraft on 21 December last year.

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