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An Air India Boeing 787-8. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Air India Reinforces Flight Operations for the U.S. and U.K.

Air India  after being acquired by the Tata Group — is determined to reclaim its position as a leader of international airlines. After weeks of announcing the fleet expansion in Mid-September, the airline has revealed its plan of adding 5,000 seats and 20 weekly flights to the U.S. and U.K. starting in October. The new moves are paving the way for the recovery.

The flag carrier has introduced the services from Mumbai to San Francisco and reinstated Bangalore, India to San Francisco, bringing the total number of flights to the U.S. to 40 a week. Also, nine additional flights to London and five flights to Birmingham, U.K., will be added. After the enhancement, seven Indian cities will provide non-stop services to London’s Heathrow Airport, and 48 flights will be operated between India and U.K. every week. The moves come after 10 months of the acquisition by the Tata Group.

“As Air India reinvents itself under the Vihaan.AI transformation program, adding frequency and improving connectivity from major Indian cities to more international destinations is a significant focus.” Campbell Wilson, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the airline said.

Earlier, the airline introduced its transformation plan named Vihaan. AI. The plan is in Sanskrit which means the dawn of a new era.

Air India said there are five pillars of Vihaan.AI, including unmatched customer experience and convenience, robust operations, attracting the best industry talent, industry leadership and commercial efficiency and profitability.

The airline said the transformation will be comprehensive and outlined the expansion of the fleet will involve a combination of both narrow and wide-bodied aircraft to cater to different network needs. Also, the airline will improve flight schedules to enhance its on-time performance (OTP). Air India said the transformation is already underway, starting from refurbishing cabins with serviceable seats and improving its in-flight entertainment.

“The excitement and shared commitment to drive Vihann.AI are palpable across the organization and stakeholders will recognize the changes as the new face of Air India emerges,” Wilson said.

Airline’s Market Share

In the meantime, Air India aimed to increase its market share to at least 30 percent in the domestic market by expanding its international routes.

According to India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)’s latest traffic figures, Air India was left behind and shared only 8.4 percent of the domestic market in August, the load factor was 73.6 percent. Indigo, the country’s largest no-frills airline ranked first, shared 57.7 percent of the market. All airlines carried a total of 77 million passengers from January to August, recording an increase of 67 percent, compared to the same time last year.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg said the Tata Group is considering raising at least one billion dollars, letting the airline could value the carrier at around five billion dollars. It comes after the increase in frequencies in U.S. and U.K. However, Air India has denied commenting.

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