Thursday, July 11, 2019

Choosing CFM engines for A320 Neo over Pratt & Whitney may have been breaking point between Bhatia, Gangwal

New Delhi: IndiGo dumping Pratt & Whitney’s (PW) snag-prone engines for the Airbus A320 Neo aircraft (they are snag-prone only for A320/21 Neos and not other planes they are used on) may have been the breaking point for the airline’s feuding co-promoters Rahul Bhatia and Rakesh Gangwal. From its inception in 2005, IndiGo has been mainly using PW engines and things were fine till the A320/21 new engine option (Neo) planes started arriving about three to four years back with PW’s new engines for this plane. After that like all airlines globally using this combo, including GoAir in India, IndiGo also faced constant troubles with PW engines on the Neo.

On June 17, 2019, IndiGo — the world’s largest customer for Airbus 320/21 Neo — announced it is opting for CFM engines over PW engines for this plane. The low cost carrier placed an order worth $20 billion for CFM’s LEAP-1A engines for 280 A320 and A321 Neo planes, making it the largest ever single engine order ever. CFM International is a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines.

Five days before the order was placed, on June 12, Rahul Bhatia wrote to IndiGo’s board saying: “I have highlighted in previous correspondence that the genesis of Gangwal’s angst lies elsewhere — the refusal of the IGE Group to succumb to his unreasonable demands to dilute the IGE Group's controlling rights; and the hurt ego of Gangwal on realizing that upon his refusal to lend his hand in the company’s ongoing negotiations with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the company had proceeded to make alternate arrangements for the purpose.”

The OEM being referred to, say sources, is PW. Right from IndiGo's inception in 2005, Rakesh Gangwal was the man with expertise for placing aircraft and engine orders to build airline fleet given his over three decade experience in several US carriers. Bhatia was the partner that brought in travel knowledge of India and funds.
10/07/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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