New Delhi: Disinvestment-bound Air India is hoping to garner a revenue of over Rs90 crore a month from the lucrative New Delhi-San Francisco sector, in which it operates nine flights a week.

The national carrier added three flights on the route on 25 March, taking the total number of non-stop services to nine a week. The revenue from the sector was about Rs60-65 crore per month and it went up to Rs71 crore in December last year. The service was launched in December 2015.

“We expect a net addition of 25 crore from this month onwards with the three new services, taking the total number of flights operating on this route to nine (a week)," an airline person in the know said. The person also hinted at augmenting services on other sought-after routes soon. Air India’s operating profit stood at 98.03 crore in 2016-17 fiscal.

Last month, it took delivery of its 23rd and the last of the Boeing 777 plane which can be used in ultra-long haul routes, completing its 68 aircraft orders placed with the US plane-maker. But the controversial sale of five aircraft to Etihad in 2014 has been a sore point for the airline, robbing it the edge it could have enjoyed in the international over other airlines, airline officials said.

“We could have dominated the US market had the sold-out aircraft remained with us. Today, our rivals are driving customers through their hubs abroad, to US destinations, whereas we could have offered them non-stop flights from here to several other US destinations," one of the people in the know said.

In its report tabled in Parliament in March last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had said that Air India had sold five Boeing planes to Etihad Airways at a “significantly" lower price than the “indicative" market price of the aircraft.

It said that Air India had incurred a book loss of Rs671.07 crore on the sale of these planes and payment of Rs324.67 crore towards interest on loans availed for procurement of these aircraft. The aircraft were delivered to Etihad Airways between January and April 2014.

Now that the airline is on the block with the disinvestment process kicking in, the people in the know said they would continue to explore augmentation of services on the routes with high-seat factor, without being affected by the sell-out process.

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