Air India Express, the Low Cost Arm of TATA Group Airlines is in the final stages for merger of AIX Connect, formerly called AirAsia India into the former airline. Both airlines have completed various stages of merger till now.
Air India Express Moves to NCLT
Air India Express has filed the second motion in National Company Appellate Tribunal (NCLT) for the merger of Air India Express and AIX Connect. The airline has now moved to NCLT for its approval. The airline expects the approval to be granted by March of this year 2024. Once the approval is granted, both Air India Express and AirAsia India will be able to operate on a single Air Operator Certificate (AOC).
AIX Connect is the new name of former AirAsia India brand. The brand AirAsia India was liquidated in November, when TATA Group revealed the new identity of Air India Express. In May 2024, the AOC of AirAsia India is all set to expire. For Air India Express, the validity is upto April 2028. Air India shares the same date.
Future Plans of Air India Express
The Merger of Air India Express and AIX Connect is in final stage. Both airlines have nod from DGCA and Competition Commission of India (CCI). Both are sharing the same booking portal and social media handles.
Moving forward, the airline is looking at an aggressive fleet expansion. Currently, the airline’s combined fleet stands at 62. In next 365 days, it will induct a record 50 Boeing 737 MAX jets. Some aircraft will be phased out from the overall fleet because they are old and fuel inefficient. By the end of 2024, the airline is aiming at a fleet of 98 jets even after phasing out some Airbus A320s. Most of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 received by the airline are those, earlier destined for Chinese air carriers. As a result of this, these jets have 2×2 Premium cabins as well, which Air India Express is using as Vista Premium Economy Class.
Internationally, the airline is looking at all the destinations within 5-6 hours range of India. This includes Gulf countries, Middle East, Southeast Asia, East Asia and CIS countries.
Domestically, Air India Express will be focusing on Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. It is looking to expand its network but before that, it will consolidate. Air India Express CEO Aloke Singh gave an example that when the airline started flights to Surat, it started from Delhi. In a matter of time, the airline connected it to Bengaluru, Kolkata, Sharjah and Dubai. Same case with Ayodhya. The airline first announced connection to Delhi and then started bookings for Kolkata and Bengaluru flights.
Different Market for Different Airlines
TATA Group has decided to go ahead with 2 major airlines – Air India and Air India Express. While Air India will manage routes with premium traffic, Air India Express will look at Tier-II and Tier-III routes. Air India wil primarily focus on routes originating from Delhi and Mumbai. AI Express will feed traffic to its parent airline.
Air India Express CEO Aloke Singh said : Passengers traveling with AI Group will benefit from cross feeds that offer smooth connectivity. With connections in Delhi, Mumbai, and other countries, AI has a robust global network. We will replicate the hub and spoke framework by feeding these hubs with feeds from locations such as Bhubaneshwar, Patna, Ranchi, Surat, and Bagdogra. When traveling on our connecting (to and from AI) flights, passengers will receive the same baggage allowance as they do on AI International flights.
Source : Times of India