Air India spreads its wings, plans flights for Bali, Nairobi and Toronto
Air India plans to launch services from Delhi to Bali, Nairobi and Toronto in the winter schedule as it looks to consolidate its position as the largest carrier on overseas routes from India.
Currently, there is no non-stop service from Delhi to Nairobi and Bali while Air Canada flies daily to Toronto. New services are being proposed as Air India expects the return of its seventeen grounded planes in service by October end.
Thrice weekly Delhi-Toronto flight will be launched on September 27, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted on Friday. Launch dates for Bali and Nairobi have not been fixed. The airline is also planning Mumbai-Hong Kong flights.
The network expansion will help national carrier grow its market share and capitalise on capacity vaccum created by the collapse of Jet Airways. Improved fleet utilisation, wider network and better yields should help Air India and its chairman Ashwani Lohani is confident Air India will improve it's performance in FY 20.
"On average our load factors are 82-83 per cent. Connecting traffic too is growing. Operationally we are doing well and this would get reflected in our financial performance in FY 20," Lohani said.
Fuel price volatility and continued closure of Pakistan airspace are the main risks and the airline is losing Rs six crore daily as airspace closure has increased flying time of its US and Europe bound flights.
Seventeen planes including its Airbus A320, Boeing 777s and 787s have been grounded for several months because of want of spares and engines. Air India's engineering department has prepared a schedule to get the planes back into operations making network expansion possible in winter.
In FY 18, Air India has a market share of 10.4 per cent on India's international traffic. Jet Airways which shut operations in April had a share of around 14 per cent in same year. Despite flight cancellations, Jet had a capacity share of over 12 per cent on all international routes from India in January and commanded over half seat share on Mumbai -London and Mumbai -Kuwait routes.
In its recent report aviation consultancy CAPA said, "Air India will continue to face strong competition on domestic routes, but now that it has emerged as the largest carrier on overseas routes - where capacity is constrained - international operations could prove to be lucrative."