New Delhi: Air India, run by National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, is planning to revamp its international operations, concentrating on non-stop connections instead of one-stop flights on its long-haul routes.
From November, the airline is likely to drop Frankfurt as its European hub, flying direct to destinations such as Toronto and Chicago from Delhi’s new Terminal 3, according to two Air India officials familiar with the proceedings of the national carrier’s strategy committee meeting on Monday that was attended by newly appointed chief operating officer Gustav Baldauf.
The airline also plans to start flights to destinations such as Melbourne as part of a new strategy aimed at taking advantage of a growing fleet of aircraft capable of traversing such distances without refuelling with passengers willing to pay a premium for seats on such flights.
Flight plan: From November, Air India is likely to drop Frankfurt as its European hub, flying direct to destinations such as Toronto and Chicago from Delhi’s new Terminal 3. PTI
The move is also meant to attract travellers to visit India during the Commonwealth Games in October. A proposal to hire Cato Purnell Partners to rebrand the carrier ahead of the Games has already been approved, as Mint reported last month.
“The whole focus is on Delhi’s Terminal 3 where feeds will come in and can be fanned out through our network,” said one of the officials, referring to the upcoming integrated terminal, which will allow passengers to make faster transfers. From mid-July, passengers, except those travelling on low-cost domestic airlines, won’t have to make the tedious trip to switch between domestic and international terminals.
“This is the right way. There will be a lot of savings for the airline as it (Frankfurt) was an expensive airport,” said the second airline official. The new strategy, discussed by committee members including Anand Mahindra, vice-chairman and managing director of the Mahindra Group, and former Indian Air Force chief Fali H. Major on Monday, will need to be approved by the board of the airline. The network strategy has been prepared with help from New York-based SH&E. Air India is slated to join Star Alliance, the biggest alliance of airlines, next year.