Vienna: Austrian Airlines is aiming to corner a larger share of the “very competitive" Indian market, also the carrier’s third largest, by offering attractive products to meet the growing challenges posed by its global competitors, a top airline official said.

“Indian market is very competitive and it is growing so fast now. We have to be competitive. We are in competition with everyone who is flying in the Indian market," Stephan Linhart, international sales director of Austrian Airlines, told visiting Indian correspondents here.

In a bid to attract Indian customers, the airline is offering Indian cuisine, as well as others products ranging from Bollywood movies on their in-flight entertainment systems to latest Indian news on board flights between Delhi and Vienna.

India has become the third largest market for the airline in the Asia-Pacific region after China and Japan, Linhart said. “We are trying to pamper our customers. These are little things but it makes a huge difference," he said.

Noting that a major chunk of Indian air travellers were bound for destinations in North America, Linhart said Vienna could become an important transfer hub for the change-over of flights to destinations in the US and Canada. Commenting on the burgeoning Indian aviation market, Linhart said the low cost carriers (LCC) in India have created an additional demand in the market. “It (LCC) makes people start flying, which means increase in demand," he said.

The premier European airline, which operates flights to 130 destinations across the world, is a member of the largest global airline grouping Star Alliance, of which Air India has become the latest member. Austrian Airlines had joined Star Alliance in March 2000. “Being a member of Star Alliance, Air India has opened the doors for us and other member carriers in the Indian aviation market," Linhart said.

Austrian has been flying to Delhi since October 1997. He replied in the negative when asked about their plans to increase the number of destinations Austrian operates in India from just Delhi, saying “we have no such plans as of now." Linhart said the airline was working with the Austrian Tourism Board to make Vienna an attractive destination for the Indian customers by offering “value for money" to them. Austrian Airlines currently operates to 39 destinations in central and eastern Europe.

On being asked about their expansion plans, Linhart said the airline was scheduled to start their services to Mauritius in October 2015 and increase frequency of their flights to New York and Chicago sometime later this year. The airlines, which is a part of Lufthansa Group since September 2009, said they are giving special offers to their customers in the economy class as well. Austrian Airlines operates a fleet of 80 aircraft, including 11 long haul planes, and has carried 11.2 million passengers worldwide in 2014. PTI

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