India eases leasing rules to address aircraft shortages -minister

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NEW DELHI, March 20 (Reuters) - India has taken steps to allow airlines to lease more aircraft to fill a gap in capacity as travel rebounds from the pandemic, the country's civil aviation minister said on Monday.

Airline traffic is recovering quickly from coronavirus restrictions that led to jets being grounded worldwide in 2020, with manufacturers now struggling to keep pace with aircraft demand and engine shortages grounding some planes.

"Surprisingly and shockingly, the situation has turned the other way... Now we do not have enough airplanes to fly our passengers," Minister of Civil Aviation Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia told the CAPA India Aviation Summit.

Air India last month announced a record order for 470 jets and is due to take another 25 leased aircraft as it reinvents itself under new owners Tata Group.

Scindia said India had tweaked its airplane leasing programme to enable airlines to add more aircraft to meet passenger demand, including more "wet leasing", or renting of planes with crew, for domestic and international routes.

He outlined ambitious investments and tax reforms in infrastructure and maintenance facilities and called for more manufacturing of aerospace products in India. (Reporting by Aditi Shah and Tim Hepher; Edited by Jamie Freed)