With Delhi as hub, AI to go places
Air India has commenced flights between New Delhi and Copenhagen, its 14th destination in Europe after Vienna, Madrid and Stockholm. Recently-appointed Chairman and MD of Air India, Rajiv Bansal, tells TRAVTALK about the airline’s new international routes
Q Please tell us about VJG PGY ƀKIJV.
Copenhagen is Air India’s 14th destination in Europe. We are elated about expanding our reach to Europe, having recently added Vienna, Madrid, Stockholm and now Copenhagen. We are looking forward to good passenger load and more Europeans coming to India. The winter season and the festival season are coming up, so we hope to get good passenger loads.
Q HQY JCXG VJG ƀKIJVU to traditional sectors like Rome and Paris fared?
We have been operating in traditional sectors like London, Frankfurt and Paris and we’ve got very good loads on them. The new sectors are picking up and most of these sectors have flights three days a week and four days a week. The sectors take time to pick up; we have up to 2/3rd occupancy from 60 per cent to 70 per cent load. We’ve got the best class aircraft–the 787 Dreamliner–and very good in-flight services. We are now focusing on on-time performance.
Q Are you going to OCMG KV C FCKN[ ƀKIJV service to this sector?
Not as yet. We will continue with three days and then watch for passenger load. We have very good cargo loads, incidentally. The greatness about Air India is that we operate on the Hub and Spoke model and don't operate point-to-point. It’s not about carrying passengers between Copenhagen and New Delhi, it’s about carrying passengers between India and Europe so Delhi is a staging point for passengers to come in and go to various destinations in India. Similarly, Copenhagen will be a staging point to Scandinavia and northern Europe.
Q Please tell us how this PGY ƀKIJV KU IQKPI VQ DGPGſV VTCXGNNGTU DGVYGGP both countries.
We bring in passengers from smaller towns into the six metros and take them from one metro to another and also take them internationally. There is no other airline which can compete with us in this space, neither a domestic carrier nor an international carrier, because the value proposition we offer in terms of network, nobody can offer. That's why we have ordered this large fleet of Boeing 787 aircrafts and one more is expected in about six weeks from now. That is why we are increasing our impact and footprint in Europe. We have added 11 destinations and will add one or two more so we are looking at European market as a whole. We are looking at making Delhi as an international hub so that European passengers who want to go to Singapore, Bangkok or Australia can use our services.
Q What kind of passenger load factor are you expecting on the PGY ƀKIJV!
In Europe, we have traditionally been operating to London, Frankfurt and Paris, and we have good passenger load factor on these sectors. We have low load factors of around 65 to 70 per cent on the new sectors. We would like to bring them up to 80 per cent. That's the load we’re looking at for the summer season. We see advance bookings pick up.
Q Which domestic routes will you be starting next?
We are rationalising our routes with Alliance Air and Air India Express. Over the last 10 days, we have had three rounds of meetings and we are trying to see where we can complement each other and definitely not compete with each other. Between Air India and Air India Express, we are trying to tweak our frequencies as well as our timings so that we don’t fly to the same destinations around the same time. Similarly, on short haul routes, I want to vacate space for Alliance Air because in less than an hour’s flying time it doesn’t make sense for my Airbus series to fly whereas Alliance Air Turbo Prop would be able to make money so we are conceding space to them and with whatever capacity will be available, we will focus on the metros.
We are looking at making Delhi as an international hub so that European passengers who want to go to Singapore, Bangkok, or Australia can use our services and go onward. Rajiv Bansal Chairman and MD Air India