An Air India jet taxis on the runway at London’s Heathrow International Airport. (Photographer: Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg News)

Air India Plans To Increase Daily Use Of Aircraft

Air India is planning to increase the daily utilisation of its aircraft both on domestic as well as international routes, a senior company official said.

The state-owned company is planning to use its aircraft for at least half an hour more daily, said Vinod Hejmadi, director of finance at Air India.

“Our daily utilisation of airplanes is not very good. It’s around 10-and-a-half hours on Airbus route (domestic routes). We can increase it by half an hour...Even in the international routes, our 787s fly around 12-and-a-half hours a day. We can increase it to 13 and half hours,” he said at the CAPA India Aviation Summit 2019.

The government has been working on ways to revive the fortunes of Air India, which is estimated to have a debt burden of Rs 55,000 crore. Hejmadi said the national carrier would now focus again on the U.S. market by increasing its frequencies, indicating a shift of focus from Europe.

“On the international front, we concentrated on Europe a year ago. In fact, we started destinations to Scandinavia, Milan, Vienna, Madrid...We are redirecting our vision on the North America route,” Hejmadi said.

He said the company is planning to add three frequencies (flights) to one of the destination in the U.S. These three extra flights would be either to San Francisco, Chicago or New York, he said.

“In the U.S., existing frequencies would be enhanced. Najaf is the one we have started now...We plan to consolidate, not expand further. We want to curtail the costs of opening up new offices and the return of investment is very late,” he said.

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“After the success of Indian cricket team, we would be increasing our frequencies to Melbourne. That is in the pipeline,” he said.

He admitted that the national carrier is finding difficult to compete with the low-cost carriers in the country domestically and that is why it is shifting its focus to smaller cities to gain market share. All scheduled domestic airlines apart from Vistara, Jet Airways and Air India are low cost carriers.

“Everybody else (airline) is inducting fleet. In the domestic market, I must admit that we can not compete with the low-cost carriers,” he said. “On the domestic metro routes, it is very difficult to compete with the low-cost carriers. Our focus would be on tier II or tier III cities,” he said.