Air India Express is set to spread its wings to Bangladesh besides launching new flights to Saudi Arabia and Singapore and increasing its aircraft fleet size to 25 by the end of the next year.
The airline, which posted a net profit of Rs 362 crore in the fiscal 2015-16 for the first time since its launch in 2005, is estimated to have logged a good growth in both passenger numbers and revenue in the September quarter of the current financial year, Air India Express (AIE) Chief Executive Officer K Shyamsunder said.
“We will launch new flights to Singapore from Kolkata and Chennai besides a service to Dhaka from Kolkata. Apart from these, we are also going to connect Saudi city of Riyadh from Calicut during the winter schedule,” Shyamsunder told PTI in an interview from Kochi.
AIE would also connect Dhaka with Kolkata during the winters, he said, adding “a number of other new flights are set to be launched between this month and March next year.”
The winter schedule of the Indian airlines would commence from October 30 and last up to March end next year.
The Kochi-headquartered airline at present operates 475 services per week to 13 international airports across the Gulf and South-east Asia. As many as 236 of the 435 services are operated to and from Kerala.
AIE has a fleet of 21 Boeing 737 planes–17 owned and four on lease–and two B-737 are expected to join the fleet by next month, which will take the total number of aircraft to 23.
In addition, Air India Express has recently invited bids for dry leasing of two Boeing 737 aircraft which it plans to induct by December 2017.
“We need them (the two planes) for expanding our operations, though we have yet to finalise the routes or the airports we will fly them to. We will have to wait for the deliveries of these planes,” Shyamsunder said.
Talking about the financial performance of the airline in the July-September quarter, he said the airline has seen growth both in the topline and passenger numbers, but the load factor dropped by a few notches during the period due to capacity addition.
The airline reported a net profit of Rs 361.68 crore in the fiscal 2015-16 against the loss of Rs 61 crore FY 15. Low oil prices, coupled with higher load factor and better utilisation of its assets helped Air India Express achieve the positive financial results.
“The growth in this quarter has been fairly good. Both revenue and passenger numbers are up by 25 per cent compared to the period year ago. It is because passengers profile more or less remains the same.
“However, the load factor has declined three per cent to 81 per cent from 84 per cent in the same quarter of fiscal 2015-16. The profit trends are also very positive,” he said.
Air India Express had carried 2.80 million passengers and earned a total revenue of Rs 2917.96 crore in the fiscal 2015-16.