Air India Removes Unprofitable Routes From Domestic Network – Simple Flying

The airline is focusing more on metro-centric routes.
Network optimization seems to be a top priority for Air India’s new management, as the airline has reportedly made several changes to its domestic flight operations. Under the Tatas, Air India has removed several unprofitable routes within the country and is now focusing more on metro-to-metro connectivity.
Air India is on a network clean-up drive and has removed several domestic flights that were losing money. According to a report by Business Standard, the airline is doubling down on metro-to-metro routes while thinning out its presence on many non-metro sectors where it competes with several budget carriers.
The routes dropped from the carrier’s network map include Delhi-Ranchi, Delhi-Raipur, Delhi-Nagpur, Aizawl-Imphal, Bhopal-Pune, Kolkata-Dibrugarh, Kolkata-Dimapur, and Kolkata-Jaipur.
Air India was struggling with low demand on many of these sectors, while tough competition prevented it from making profits on others. The report cites Cirium’s data to note that on the Delhi-Nagpur route in June, Air India had 14 weekly flights that were competing with IndiGo’s 58 and Go First’s 14. The Delhi-Raipur route had a similar story, with Air India flying 14 flights a week as opposed to IndiGo’s 62 and Vistara’s 28.
Business Standard reviewed Air India’s internal document dated October, which states that the airline was focusing on ‘network optimization.’
Following these changes, it has increased frequencies on several major airport routes such as Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Bengaluru, Mumbai-Chennai, Mumbai-Bengaluru, and Hyderabad-Mumbai.
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This is also in contrast with other carriers, such as IndiGo and Go First, that have reduced flights on these sectors due to grounded planes, giving Air India the advantage. Aviation Analyst Ameya Joshi was quoted in the report as saying,
"Airline profitability is a sum of profitable routes it operates on. It always makes more sense to have a dense presence on metro routes than have a thin presence across multiple routes. An FSC (full-service carrier) primarily will look for metro-to-metro, which sees frequent fliers and a large volume, rather than develop new markets or hold on to loss-making ones."
Indeed, an Air India official also confirmed that metro routes are proving beneficial for the carrier as it is easier to fill premium cabins in these sectors. Under its new CEO, Campbell Wilson, some other routes that have seen frequency increase include Delhi-Amritsar, Delhi-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Lucknow, Delhi-Pune, and Kolkata-Guwahati.
The airline is simultaneously focusing on its offshore offering by bringing back several previously dropped routes to Europe while also doubling down on flights to North America.
It is resuming services to Vienna, Milan, and Copenhagen from New Delhi – routes it used to fly before COVID. Air India is also launching new flights connecting Mumbai with New York, Paris, and Frankfurt.
The new Mumbai-New York service will operate daily to New York JFK using Boeing 777-200LR aircraft and will commence on February 14th, 2023. It will complement Air India’s existing daily service from Delhi to the New York area’s John F Kennedy International Airport and four weekly flights to Newark Liberty airport. This takes the airline’s India-US frequency to 47 nonstop flights per week.
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Air India is also set to receive five Boeing 777-200LRs previously flown by Delta Air Lines and needs around 100 pilots with adequate skills and experience to fly these widebodies, for which it is now looking at talents abroad.
What do you think about Air India’s domestic strategy? Please leave your comments below.
Source: Business Standard
With a background in publishing and digital media, Gaurav likes to combine his love for aviation with his fondness for storytelling. He's a keen observer of ever-changing aviation trends around the world and particularly in India. Gaurav also keeps a close eye on the fleet development of all major carriers and their subsequent impact on regional and international routes. Based in New Delhi, India.


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