Air India Express is all set to move into its next expansion phase. The airline is keen to spread its presence in the Secondary Tier cities in India, which are currently dominated by largest Low Cost Carrier, IndiGo.
Air India Express Expansion
TATA Group Low Cost Carrier, Air India is looking to grow its network across Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities in Indian Market. These sectors are currently fully dominated by IndiGo because of the sheer size of airline’s fleet. Now, Air India Express is also receiving rapid deliveries from Boeing. In last month, the airline received a total of 5 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets, which were previously destined to airlines based in China. With a fast growing fleet, Air India Express is looking to expand into the Regional market of India.
Chief Commercial Officer at Air India Express Ankur Garg told in an interview to The Hindu Business Line that the airline is currently looking at Secondary market and will set eyes on leisure travellers in 2024. It aims to attract mostly leisure and cost-sensitive passengers. According to Garg, this market will set the tone of Indian aviation industry in future.
This work of expanding into Tier-2 and Tier-3 market has already been started. In last year 2023, Air India Express started flights to three cities as new destinations : Surat, Gwalior and Ayodhya. Furthermore, it added various routes fro Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Fro Bengaluru Kempegowda International Airport, the airline added flights to Mangalore, Trivandrum, Kannur, Kozhikode and Banaras. From Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, it started flights to Amritsar, Gwalior, Cochin and Lucknow. Soon, it will start daily services from Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport to Gwalior and Ayodhya.
In a recent interview of Air India Express Chief Aloke Singh, he said that we do not add destinations in a single go. We first add one route and then looking at the response, we go forward. For example, in case of Ayodhya, the airline first announced daily flights between Delhi and Ayodhya. After receiving good booking response, it started bookings for Ayodhya to Kolkata and Bengaluru. Same strategy was followed by the airline while starting Surat flights.
Feeding Traffic to Air India
Air India is a Full Service Carrier, which primarily focuses on Tier-1 domestic cities and international market. On the other hand, Air India Express is a Low Cost Carrier, fully focused on Tier-2 and Tier-3 market. Internationally, AI Express has a robust network, when it comes to connecting South India to Gulf region. The airline is looking to strengthen its presence in Gulf region. Soon, it will launch two routes to Dammam – one fro Mumbai and other Hyderabad.
Air India and AI Express have a codeshare agreement under which both airlines feed traffic to each other. In case, a passenger wants to travel from Gwalior to London, he can book with Air India Express. AI Express will fly the passenger from Gwalior to Delhi and after Delhi, his journey will continue with Air India.
As per Ankur Garg, 2023 was a year of transformation for the airline. It increased in both terms – capacity and customer experience improvements. The airline hired 480 pilots and 1,385 flight attendants from various Indian cities. With this, the airline workforce now has reached 5,500 employees.
Combining with AIX Connect, the airline has a total fleet of 63 aircraft, which includes 35 Boeing 737 and 28 Airbus A320s. It operates more than 325 daily flights across 45 airports. Out of these, 31 are from India and 14 are international airports. On January 15th, the airline will commence regular scheduled flights between Delhi and Ayodhya. It will be followed by initiation of flights from Ayodhya to Kolkata and Bengaluru with effect from 17th January.
Source : The Hindu Business Line