Air India planning to expand its network

By: |
Mumbai | March 15, 2016 12:58 AM

With improvement in its financial health on the back of lower jet fuel prices and increased aircraft utilisation, Air India is planning to expand its operations...

With improvement in its financial health on the back of lower jet fuel prices and increased aircraft utilisation, Air India is planning to expand its operations, both in the international and domestic network.

A senior official of the airline told FE that a direct flight between Washington and New Delhi will start by July, while a new flight to London – Delhi and Ahmedabad is also on the verge of starting operations to utilise the fourth slot at the Heathrow airport.

Air India is also expected to start a new flight between Vienna and New Delhi from April 6. This new flight will operate thrice a week. These expansions on the international routes have been planned without adding any new wide body aircrafts. The wide body aircraft utilisation as of now stands at 13 hours.

On the domestic front the airline is on its way to expand its reach in the Tier III and Tier IV cities. Air India’s subsidiary, Alliance Air is planning to buy three new ATR 700 aircrafts for flying to the smaller airports.

Recently, Allaince Air started operating flights to places like Gorakhpur, Nashik, Gwalior, Durgapur and other such places. Allaince Air is also looking to recruit 20 new pilots to operate the ATR 700 aircrafts.

“We will provide the training to the pilots and will also bear the cost of training them which will be subsequently recovered from them. We generally get affluent passengers who travel to these small cities from metropolitan ones like Mumbai and Delhi so the occupancy will be decent,” the official added.

Last month, Ashwini Lohani, chairman and managing director of Air India after inaugurating the new booking office in the Air India building said that the national carrier will focus more on connecting the small towns and cities to their metropolitan counterparts.

The expansion on the international front, in fact started with the direct flight between the New Delhi and San Francisco in November which is the longest route in which the airline operates.

According to industry expert these expansions are possible because of the softening oil prices which declined 57% from June 2014. Expenses related to jet fuel constitutes 40% of the total operational expenses of an airline.

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