As part of a “massive” development strategy over the next five years, Air India Express is eyeing more international connections from India’s second and third-tier cities.
Tara Naidu, the LCC’s Chief of Commercial, said the company plans to swiftly expand its network under its new owner, Tata Group, while sticking to its objective of offering inter-regional routes with a six-hour stage duration.
Air India Express is exploring 30 countries, including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey, and Vietnam, according to Naidu, who spoke at Routes Asia 2022 in Da Nang, Vietnam.
“There are some markets where there is no direct connectivity, which is strange because they are huge markets,” she said. “We believe that it’s going to be a win-win for us—it will stimulate the growth of tourism in both directions and ease business connectivity.”
With aircraft bases in Cochin (COK), Delhi (DEL), Kozhikode (CCJ), Mangalore (IXE), Mumbai (BOM), Thiruvananthapuram (TVR), and Tiruchchirappalli, Air India Express currently serves 19 domestic and 14 foreign destinations (TRZ).
Air India Express, unlike its parent company Air India, which maintains a hub-and-spoke network, flies high-density point-to-point routes, focusing on markets with substantial migrant worker populations, as well as VFR and leisure passengers. By capacity, Dubai, Sharjah, and Muscat are among its busiest international destinations.
Air India Express, which now has a fleet of 24 Boeing 737-800s, intends to acquire more aircraft in the near future, according to Naidu. It also intends to implement new interline and codeshare arrangements with other carriers, according to her.
“This will give us additional market reach and access to market segments we wouldn’t have otherwise,” Naidu explained.
In January, Tata completed its purchase of the Air India group from the Indian government, and in April, it began the process of merging Air India with domestic carrier AirAsia India.