Barely two years after SpiceJet started operating the 70-seater Bombardier Q400s to increase connectivity in smaller cities, high maintenance cost of the aircraft has become a cause of worry.
The airline is learnt to be paying a maintenance cost of over 50 per cent more than the cost of any aircraft of its size.
An official source in the know, said that the maintenance cost per flight hour for a 70-seater Q400 type aircraft should be about $800.
“In the case of SpiceJet, the maintenance cost per flight hour is about $1,300, which is over 50 per cent higher than any other aircraft of its type and the same as its Boeing 737 aircraft. Maintenance cost of any aircraft of Q400’s size should be about $800 per flight hour,” said the source.
The Gurgaon-based low-cost airline operates a fleet of 15 Bombardier Q400 aircraft, to connect cities that are in the one-and-a-half hour flying range of larger airport cities like Hyderabad and Chennai.
The source added that SpiceJet chief operating officer Sanjiv Kapoor, who will be promoted as the CEO in a few months, has also raised concerns over the high maintenance cost of the aircraft.
An email query sent to the airline on the issue did not get a response. “We cannot reply to your query because we are in a ‘silent period’,” the spokesperson said over the phone.
Silent period is the time before announcing of financial results, when companies are not allowed to make any forward-looking statements.
SpiceJet’s financial statements show that the airline is witnessing a continuous surge in maintenance expenses. The cost of maintenance has jumped 125 per cent to Rs 673 crore in FY13 from Rs 298 crore in FY11.
The airline increased its fleet size to 51 by December 2012 from 22 in October 2010. In the first nine months of FY14, maintenance costs have risen by 79 per cent to Rs 761 crore from Rs 424 crore during the year-ago period. The Q4 results are awaited.