Air India, India’s flag carrier, is continuing its growth path: the airline has announced it will increase the number of flights to the US and the UK over the next 15 months. Let’s have a closer look at Air India’s planned network growth.
20 additional routes to the US and the UK
Air India, owned by the TATA Group, is working on expanding its network. In a statement released today, the airline has announced its intention to enhance its connectivity to the US and the United Kingdom.
The network expansion envisages 20 new additional weekly flights from different Indian cities to London (LHR), Birmingham (BHX) in the UK, and San Francisco (SFO) in the US. The additional flights will be added to the airline’s current network in a phased manner between October and December 2022.
Air India’s transformational roadmap, Vihaan. AI, focuses on a robust network expansion in the UK and US. Photo: Vincenzo Pace I Simple Flying
The 20 additional flights to the UK and US will be split as follows:
- Five additional weekly flights to Birmingham (BHX)
- Nine additional flights to London (LHR)
- Six additional weekly flights to San Francisco (SFO)
The enhanced network in detail
Once the new additional flights start to be operated, Air India will offer a total of 48 weekly flights to the UK, up from the current 34. The five additional weekly flights to Birmingham will be split between Delhi (3) and Amritsar (2). Mumbai will see the most robust increase in frequencies to London (5), followed by Delhi (3) and Ahmedabad (1). Air India’s enhanced connectivity to London implies seven Indian cities will have a direct connection to the UK’s capital.
The enhanced network to the UK and US will lead Air India to add 5,000 weekly seats to the two countries. Photo: Vincenzo Pace I Simple Flying
On the other hand, Air India flights to the US will increase to 40 per week, instead of the 34 the airline currently operates. Air India has focused on San Francisco, which the flag carrier will serve with a third weekly service from Mumbai. Furthermore, three weekly frequencies will be reinstated from Bangalore as well. With its new network in place, Air India will offer a total of 16 weekly flights to San Francisco, up from the current 10, from the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.
|Route||Current Frequency||New Frequency||Effective|
|Amritsar (ATQ) – Birmingham (BHX)||1||3||17 Nov|
|Delhi (DEL) – Birmingham (BHX)||0||3||16 Nov|
|Delhi (DEL) – London (LHR)||11||14||30 Oct|
|Mumbai (BOM) – London (LHR)||7||12||30 Oct|
|Ahmedabad (AMD) – London (LHR)||3||4||30 Oct|
|Mumbai (BOM) – San Francisco (SFO)||0||3||2 Dec|
|Bangalore (BLR) – San Francisco (SFO)||0||3||15 Dec|
In terms of capacity, the enhanced network to the United Kingdom and the US will lead Air India to offer 5,000 additional weekly seats from India to the two countries. Additionally, the improved connectivity translates into more convenience for the carrier’s passengers. Wilson Campbell, Air India’s CEO and Managing Director, commented on the expanded network by stating:
As Air India reinvents itself (…), adding frequency and improving connectivity from major Indian cities to more international destinations is a significant focus
Air India’s transformation
India’s national carrier is experiencing a breakthrough in its history. Indeed, the carrier’s new management has designed a transformational roadmap, called Vihaan.AI, whose primary goal is to reinvent the airline and bring it back as a world-class global player in the airline industry.
Vihaan.AI has a timespan of five years, and it is structured around specific objectives. First, the restructuring plan focuses on dramatically growing the network and fleet. This way, Air India should enhance its customer proposition by improving reliability and on-time performance. Additionally, Air India’s new management plans to lead the airline to acquire a leadership position in technology, sustainability, and innovation. Last but not least, the new management aims to achieve robust operations, commercial efficiency, and profitability.
Air India’s fleet expansion
To reach its primary goal of substantially increasing its network, Air India has been heavily investing in renovating and expanding its fleet. On September 12th, the airline announced leasing 30 aircraft. The airlines signed leases and letters of intent (LOI) for 25 narrowbodies and five widebodies, increasing the carrier’s fleet by 25%. Additionally, Air India has recently reintroduced 16 long-grounded aircraft, ten narrowbodies, and six widebodies.
Air India’s fleet renewal plans will increase the carrier’s fleet by 25% by adding 25 narrowbodies and five widebodies. Additionally, the carrier’s stored aircraft will also be progressively reintroduced. Photo: Getty Images
The leased aircraft will join the fleet starting in December 2022 and include:
- 21 Airbus A320neos
- Four Airbus A321neos
- Five Boing B777-200LRs
The five leased Boeing 777-200LRs have been a fundamental acquisition for Air India’s fleet, without whom the network expansion to the US and the UK would not have been possible. Additionally, the leased widebodies bring about a significant change in Air India’s customer proposition: Air India will offer a premium economy cabin on long-haul flights for the first time in its history.
Air India has heavily invested in the Airbus A320neo, of which the airline has leased 21. Photo: Airbus
Wilson Campbell commented on the carrier’s fleet expansion by saying:
After a long time without significant growth, Air India is delighted to resume expanding its fleet and global footprint. These new aircraft, together with existing aircraft being returned to service, address an immediate need for more capacity and connectivity, and mark a strong step forward.
Air India currently owns a fleet of 70 narrowbodies, of which 54 are in service; the remaining 16 aircraft will progressively return to service by the early months of 2023. The carrier’s widebody fleet counts 43 aircraft, of which 33 are operating; similarly to the narrowbody fleet, the grounded widebodies will return to service early next year.
Do you think Air India is set on a path to affirm its role as a global player? Let us know in the comment section below!