A couple of years ago, I used to appreciate all the fast expansion Air India was rolling out. They decided to go to places beyond the usual Paris, London and Frankfurt, now that they had the 787s. Over the years, they launched many new routes, or picked the routes from other airlines:
- 2014: Launched flights to Milan/Rome
- 2016: Took over Delhi – Vienna flight connectivity from Austrian
- 2016: Launched flights to Madrid in December 2016
- 2017: Launched flights to Copenhagen and Stockholm
However, the airline has now been for months with many aircraft on the ground, making it unable for them to fly the full schedule in the planned manner. And then, with CoronaVirus, air travel has taken a sharp dip.
For long, there has been no comment from Air India about what fleet plans are going to change going forward. For instance, the airline still has four 747-400s in the fleet which are aeroplanes other airlines are getting rid of (latest being British Airways). However, it seems Air India has now started to take some commercially sound decisions. In a statement issued by the airline today, Air India said,
Air India has decided to close down its stations in Vienna, Milan, Madrid, Copenhagen and Stockholm. AI would immediately initiate action for closure in consultation with local lawyers & advise the timelines by which the stations will be closed.
This move will kill all sorts of direct connectivity between India and these countries, as Air India was the only carrier serving the route.
Air India has already made some moves concerning cost-cutting via HR cost cuts, but this seems to be the first serious move to officially trim the network and right-size it for the current travel environment where tourism is out, and people are travelling sparingly.
What do you think of the Air India network cuts? I can sure guess there will be more. This is just the start.
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