Bengaluru/New Delhi: State-owned airline Air India Ltd plans to increase its domestic and international fleet, boost its flight frequency on the “trunk routes" and connect more tier-II cities, in an attempt to regain its market share from the likes of IndiGo and GoAir.

The Indian domestic passenger market has been growing at around 20% for the last two years, but Air India’s market share is less than that of IndiGo and Jet Airways.

Air India had a market share of 14.6% in August, the last month for which data has been released by Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

IndiGo alone had a market share of almost 40%, equal to the combined share of Jet Airways (19.2%), Air India (14.6%), AirAsia India (2.2%) and Vistara (2.4%).

SpiceJet had 12.6% share of the market, while GoAir had 8%.

“All these private carriers—like IndiGo, GoAir, SpiceJet—are continuously adding capacity. In the domestic side we haven’t been able to expand capacity until now. But over the next one year there is going to be a huge induction of domestic capacity and with that we are going to regain our market share again," Pankaj Srivastava, commercial director of Air India, said at an event in Bengaluru on Monday.

Also Read: IndiGo adds new A320neos to fleet in market share push

Srivastava and other Air India executives, including chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani, were inaugurating the company’s renovated booking office at a heritage building in central Bengaluru. Lohani stressed the importance of their “fill more and fly more" motto at the event while adding that renovating the Bengaluru booking office was part of that larger plan.

In total, the company expects to induct 30-40 aircraft, including fuel-efficient Airbus A320neos within the next two years. Air India had initially ordered 27 Boeing 787 Dreamliners of which only 21 have joined its fleet so far. Six more are slated to join within the next year, executives said at the event.

Dreamliners aside, the firm also has a pending order of three Boeing 777-300ERs, which it has already confirmed. It expects those three to become part of its fleet sometime in 2018.

In all, nine new aircraft will be joining Air India’s fleet over the next year. In comparison, IndiGo plans to take its fleet to 136 by March from 115 currently.

“Once the capacity comes in, we will put it more frequency on the trunk routes, we would connect tier II cities to the metros," said Srivastava adding that they are also looking at huge expansions on the international side.

Air India, with a fleet of about 135 aircraft, the largest in India, connects over 104 cities in India and abroad and is adding 20 planes to its fleet this fiscal year alone. These include smaller turboprop ATR planes to connect regional towns and cities and Dreamliners with which it is launching international flights. The next medium-haul international flight is slated for a December launch connecting Delhi non-stop with Madrid.

“Besides IndiGo, we will see Air India adding significant capacity from March next year. This will help them strengthen their market share," said an analyst who declined to be named.

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