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


QPlease tell us about . 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.

QH 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.

QAre you go­ing to 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.

QPlease tell us how this 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.

QWhat kind of pas­sen­ger load fac­tor are you ex­pect­ing on the

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.

QWhich 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

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