SpiceJet currently has a fleet of 35 Boeing 737, 24 Bombardier Q400 and 1 Boeing B737F. They also have 205 Boeing B737Max and 25 Bombardier Q400 on order with an option for another 25 Bombardier Q400. They have been proactive in regional expansion and have added numerous regional routes under UDAN scheme. The Bombardier Q400 is the backbone of their regional expansion.
SpiceJet has taken delivery of the first Bombardier Q400 (VT-SQA) as a part of this order late last week. This is a 90-seat version as opposed to the standard 78-seat version. SpiceJet is the launch customer of this variant.
The 90-seater Bombardier Q400 was first proposed in 2016. It got certified in August 2018. The Bombardier Q400 is the first turboprop aircraft to have 90 seats. This allows the Q400 to have 15% lower operating cost per seat. It will have a reduced seat pitch of 28 inches as opposed to the standard 30-inch seat pitch. This means it will be an uncomfortable flight for tall people.
SpiceJet has recently been a frontrunner when it comes to positive passenger experience in terms of better food (paid), streaming IFE and so on. However, they’ve always been about cramming more people on the plane, be it on the 737 or here. This will help SpiceJet to increase capacity on regional routes without having to deploy the larger Boeing 737.
The 90-seat Bombardier Q400 will help SpiceJet in many ways: whether it is increasing capacity or reducing operating cost. It may represent a negative shift in terms of paxex but it’s only on short flights. It’s good to see an Indian airline be a launch customer for a new aircraft even if it’s just a variant.
What do you think of SpiceJet’s move to acquire a higher density version of the turboprop which is their tool to expand regionally?