National carrier Air India is going full throttle ahead to expand its foreign operations. The national carrier has plans to launch new flights to all major cities across the US and Europe as well as West Asia , Gulf, East Asia and Australia in the Pacific region in the next one year and increase the frequency of its flights where demand is surging.
We are increasing our thrice-a-week flight to San Francisco to six days a week and for our direct connect Melbourne and Sydney are soon going to become five day-aweek schedule instead of the earlier three and four days schedule respectively,'' Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani told Mail Today.
With 21 new 787 Dreamliners in place and six more to arrive soon, Air India is venturing into more foreign markets.
There is also a compelling reason for Air India to expand its foreign market share to take on tough competition from Emirates, which has an almost equal market share in terms of flyers going abroad from Indian cities.
We are soon connecting to Madrid in December and may open up our new destination in the United States on East Coast in Washington DC in April 2017. And in between that, we are mulling over opening one more sector which could be either Copenhagen or Stockholm to cater to Indians who love Scandinavia and vice-versa. This operation may work out by January to February 2017,'' Lohani said.
There are a few new destinations loved by Indians which are being considered and one among that is Nairobi, he said adding, ``we are looking at the market input and will take a call on that soon.''
Battling initial hiccups and snags affecting its Dreamliners, the national carrier is steadily raising its foreign market share.
Air India's Director (commercial) Pankaj Shrivastava adds, The demand is growing for Air India… when we launched our Vienna sector, we were almost booked for three months last season. This prompted us to venture into more European destinations.''
Interestingly while India plans a direct port to port link with Iran, Air India is planning a direct flight to Tehran. ``Most flights are via Dubai… a direct connection between Delhi and Tehran or Mumbai and Tehran is needed with demand growing from budget and skilled workers going there,'' Lohani said.
AI CMD, who has spent a considerable time in the tourism sector and has been the force behind the Madhya Pradesh tourism turnaround, is connecting his sectoral operations with tourism potential.
We are also eyeing a big chunk of north Indian travelers from Punjab, Himachal, Haryana and Kashmir for Singapore and Bangkok,he added.