Tata-owned Air India is operating on improving its business and to do so the airline has eliminated many ‘non-profitable’ domestic routes on the network while raising the frequency of metro routes.
Tata group Air India
Network optimization seems to be a top priority for Air India’s new management, as the airline has reportedly made many changes to its domestic flight operations. Under Tatas group, Air India has removed several unprofitable routes within the country and is now focusing more on metro-to-metro connectivity to increase.
Tata-owned Air India is on a network clean-up drive and has removed several domestic flights that were losing money. According to a report by Business Standard, the airline is doubling down on metro-to-metro connectivity while thinning out its presence in many non-metro sectors where it competes with several budget carriers.
Air India was struggling with low demand in many of these centers, while tough competition prevented it from earning profits in others. The report cites Cirium’s data to note that on the flight service between Delhi to Nagpur route in June 2022, Air India had 14 weekly flights that were competing with IndiGo’s 58 and Go First’s 14.
The flight from the Delhi to Raipur route had a similar story, with Air India flying 14 flights a week as opposed to IndiGo’s 62 and Vistara’s 28.
- Following these new changes, it has raised frequencies on many major airport routes such as Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Bengaluru, Mumbai-Chennai, Mumbai-Bengaluru, and Hyderabad-Mumbai.
This is also in contrast with other carriers, such as IndiGo and Go First, that have reduced flights in these sectors due to grounded planes, providing Air India the advantage. Aviation Analyst Ameya Joshi was quoted in the report as saying,
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“Airline profitability is a sum of profitable routes it operates on. It always makes more sense to have a dense presence on the metro-to-metro routes than have a thin presence across multiple routes. An FSC (full-service carrier) primarily will look for metro-to-metro, which sees frequent fliers and a large volume, rather than develop new markets or hold on to loss-making ones.”
Air India officials said
Indeed, an Air India official also confirmed that metro-to-metro routes are beneficial for the carrier as it is easier to fill premium cabins in these sectors. Under its new CEO, Campbell Wilson, some other new routes that have seen frequency growth include Delhi-Amritsar, Delhi-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Lucknow, Delhi-Pune, and Kolkata-Guwahati.
The airline is simultaneously focusing on its offshore offering by bringing back several previously dropped routes to Europe while also doubling down on flights to North America.
It restarts flight services to Vienna, Milan, and Copenhagen from New Delhi – routes it operated to fly before COVID. Air India is also announcing new flights connecting Mumbai with New York, Paris, and Frankfurt.
The new Mumbai to New York flight service will operate daily to New York JFK using Boeing 777-200LR aircraft and will commence next year on 14th February 2023. It will complement Air India’s existing daily flight service from Delhi to the New York area’s John F Kennedy International Airport and 4 weekly flights to Newark Liberty airport. This takes the airline’s India-US frequency to 47 direct flight services per week.
Air India is also set to receive five Boeing 777-200LRs previously flown by Delta Air Lines and requires approximately a hundred pilots with adequate skills and experience to pass these widebodies, for which it is now looking at talents abroad.
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