Staff Reporter

Budget airline completes two years of operation

  • Daily flights between Thiruvananthapuram and Dubai proposed
  • AIE to purchase four aircraft this year
  • Thiruvananthapuram: Air India Express (AIE) plans to launch operations from more airports and increase the frequency of flights from cities where it operates.

    Addressing a press conference here on Sunday in connection with the completion of two years of operation by AIE, chairman and managing director of Air-India V. Thulasidas said the AIE would soon begin daily flights from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

    The AIE launched its operations on April 29, 2005, with a flight to Abu Dhabi from Thiruvananthapuram. It now has 29 weekly flights.

    The chunk of the traffic is from Kerala where it operates 84 weekly flights from the three airports. At present, AIE flies to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Bahrain, Sharjah, Al-Ain, Muscat, Salalah, Singapore and Colombo.

    Mr. Thulasidas said the budget airline had set a target to carry a million passengers and earn revenue to the tune of Rs.10 billion in the current fiscal.

    "The total revenue in the first year of operations touched Rs.3.9 billion and in the last fiscal it was Rs.6.5 billion. In the current fiscal, we aim to cross the Rs.10 billion

    mark. In the first year of operations, we recorded a modest pre-tax profit of Rs.15 million," he added.

    A fully owned subsidiary of Air-India, the AIE operates the Boeing 737-800 and has 13 aircraft. Of them, seven are leased and the remaining are owned by the airline. Four new aircraft would be purchased this year and another eight would be bought in 2008.

    This would take the number of aircraft in the AIE fleet to 25.

    On complaints from passengers about the budget airline, the chairman and managing director said these were not true. "If that was the case, how do you think we have been able to carry half a million passengers in the last fiscal and our market share is huge in the sectors where we operate," he asked.

    Air India Express and Alliance Airlines, another subsidiary of Indian, would come together after the proposed merger between Air-India and

    Indian Airlines, Mr. Thulasidas said.