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Air India Express said to add 4 Boeing 737s to meet growing demand

Passenger load metrics are good and all routes are doing well, says a source.

Passenger load metrics are good and all routes are doing well, says a source.

The Tata Group-owned international budget airline Air India Express may add four Boeing 737 planes to its fleet of 24 aircraft by this year-end to meet increased demand for international travel, airline sources privy to the information said.

Following the removal of various pandemic-related curbs, aviation had been picking up and demand had bounced back, they said, pointing out that dry leasing was an option to enhance capacity in the short-term.

Air India Express currently has 24 Boeing 737 planes in the fleet. It lost one plane in the Kozhikode plane crash in August 2020.

"Demand for international travel has bounced back after the removal of most of the pandemic-related restrictions on travel. Loads (passenger on aircraft) are good and all the routes are doing well. Of course, there are some seasonal variations, which have been factored in," a source told PTI.

“In the short-term, the airline might take four aircraft on dry lease to increase capacity for the interim period,” the source said, adding that the new aircraft would be utilised to enhance frequency on certain routes.

A query sent to Air India Express did not elicit a response.

"You can't open new routes with four additional aircraft. These planes will only be used for increasing frequency and consolidation of the existing routes," a source said.

Air India Express currently operates flights to 11 airports in India and 13 abroad with more than 100 daily flights.

The induction of four more aircraft would expand the fleet to 28 planes altogether, the source said.

"The airline has not been allowed to grow for a long time. Earlier, its growth was hampered on account of the disinvestment process. The competition is growing every day and we have to keep up with that,” the source said.

According to another source, the airline had drawn up a business plan in 2018, in which it had envisioned becoming a 50-aircraft company by 2025 as air passenger traffic was booming at that time.

"But first, the government did not give us the go-ahead at that time saying that the airline was in its disinvestment plans and then the COVID-19 happened,” said the source.

Stating that Air India Express was hiring both cockpit crew and cabin crew, which is an indication of induction of more aircraft (in the short-term),  the source said, “a walk-in interview for cabin crew has been conducted at Calicut on Tuesday. Also, the airline has already completed one round of walk-in interviews at Delhi, Mumbai, Mangalore and Calicut.”

“And in the coming weeks, Air India Express  plans to  conduct a similar exercise at Kochi as well as in the Northeast,” he said.


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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 1:54:39 am | https://www.thehindu.com/business/air-india-express-said-to-add-4-boeing-737s-to-meet-growing-demand/article65577170.ece