As Air India finds renewed financing and vigour under the ownership of Tata Sons, the airline is working hard to get its act together. While the domestic Indian market remains competitive, international services remain a low-hanging fruit that Air India is looking to encash.
Fares are high, and it is super challenging to launch new flights at the moment, given that most of the world does not have access to prominent airspace atop Russia/Ukraine due to their geopolitical troubles. For some of the others, it is challenging to launch flights, given the shortage of equipment in the market and Boeing being unable to keep up with the supply of the 787s. This has been adequately seen with the attempts of American Airlines and United to launch US West Coast to India flights and postpone them over and over.
Towards this effect, AI recently announced that they would lease five 777-200LR aircraft from Delta while they get their aircraft sorted. They also announced that they are working on getting some of their own 787-8 aircraft back in the air after being grounded for so long.
Air India to re-launch three flights from Delhi to European destinations.
Air India will add four weekly Delhi-Milan and vice-versa flights starting from February 1, 2023, apart from thrice-weekly flights on each of Delhi-Vienna v.v. and Delhi-Copenhagen v.v., commencing from February 18 and March 1, 2023, respectively. All of these flights will be operated by Air India’s B787-8 Dreamliners, featuring 18 Business Class and 238 Economy Class seats. While they have not given away the exact dates of operation, a schedule has been published.
Each flight is a return to a previously serviced destination (MXP, VIE, CPH). Air India had to let go of five European destinations in 2020 under the impact of Covid-19. From the looks of it, it seems that Vienna and Copenhagen will be alternately served by the same 787-8, while Milan will get a 787-8, which it can have to itself for five days of the week. Of course, I am stating this very simplistically and not accounting for any potential rotations of aircraft which tend to happen.
Air India to Launch a Mumbai – New York JFK flight, apart from flights to Paris and Frankfurt.
The new Mumbai – New York JFK service will operate daily to John F Kennedy International Airport using a B777-200LR aircraft and will commence on February 14, 2023. It will complement Air India’s daily service from Delhi to New York JFK and four weekly flights to Newark Liberty (EWR) airport. This will take Air India’s India-US frequency to 47 non-stop flights per week.
From Mumbai, new flights are also planned to Paris (3 weekly) and Frankfurt (4 weekly) starting next quarter, although the slots for these are still a work in progress. All these flights will be operated by Air India’s B787-8 Dreamliner aircraft featuring 18 Business Class and 238 Economy Class seats.
With all these flights, Air India will serve seven European cities with 79 weekly non-stop flights – 48 to the United Kingdom and 31 to Continental Europe.
Commenting on this expansion, Mr Campbell Wilson, CEO and MD of Air India, said
A key element of our five-year transformation plan, Vihaan.AI, is to strengthen India’s global network, connecting India’s major cities with even more destinations. The introduction of these new non-stop flights to New York, Milan, Vienna, Copenhagen, Paris and Frankfurt is another step in that journey, which will accelerate as our aircraft fleet expands. We look forward to welcoming guests and sharing Air India’s warm Indian hospitality with them.
Air India is aggressively looking to grow its network and take the fight to other continents, while airlines from the other end cannot connect to India. Air India will resume services to three European locations from Delhi in February 2023 and launch daily flights between Mumbai and New York JFK in February 2023. Apart from this, flights will also be launched from Mumbai to Paris and Frankfurt.
What do you make of this ambitious growth being charted out by Air India?
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What is going on with the 3 existing 777-200LRs that were tendered in July? Did anyone bid for them? Bids were supposed to be opened in August. Those birds currently fly DEL-SFO-DEL and have crappy angled flat seats in business. I’m wondering which routes the new Delta 777-200LRs will be put on. I also wonder if Air India has changed the seats on them as they don’t seem to be selling Premium Economy for the new flights that have been loaded.