Air India targets hotspots

New Delhi, Dec. 23: Air India is planning to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Bali and Istanbul as the national carrier looks to cash in on the rise in outbound travel to these destinations.

The decision comes after civil aviation minister Ajit Singh expressed concern over Air India facing continued losses. In March-October, Air India showed a deficit of Rs 404 crore with inflows seen at Rs 1,348 crore and outflows estimated at Rs 1,752 crore.

"It is important that the revenue generated meet the costs incurred," Singh said.

Karan Singh, director of Premier Hotels of Asia Ltd, said, "With burgeoning outward travel, and 70 per cent of it to Southeast Asia, it makes sense to add flights to Bali ... it should be a money spinner, giving travellers more choices, besides giving Air India the power to leverage its European and US connections to bring foreign tourists through Delhi or Mumbai transit hubs."

Abhinav Tyagi, CEO of Travel Asia, said, "Flights to Turkey are running full for much of the year and added connections can reap the exponential growth in this business and leisure traffic flow."

The ministry has already approved traffic rights for the summer and winter season of 2013, granting permits to Indian carriers to fly to several new destinations.

According to officials, Air India and its no-frill subsidiary Air India Express have enhanced their number of daily flights to 650 in the summer of 2013 from 471 in the same season of 2012. It has increased flights to 691 in the winters next year from 577 in 2012 season. The national carrier has also got permits to fly to Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Moscow, Sydney and Melbourne from Delhi and to Nairobi and Najaf from Mumbai.

The officials further said freshly allocated bilaterals by the civil aviation ministry would be judiciously used and more international flights to profitable sectors would be introduced.

Market share

Though the national carrier has not made any profits in the last few months, it has managed to regain its market share.

In November, the carrier flew one fifth of the total passengers in India, according to aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Low-cost carrier IndiGo retained its lead as the largest airline by market share flying 27.3 per cent domestic passengers.

Air India captured 20.7 per cent of the market share, toppling Jet Airways at 18.3 per cent.

The carrier had the second highest aircraft passenger occupancy (load factor) at 78.6 per cent in November after IndiGo (83.9 per cent). Jet Airways and JetLite had loads of 73.8 per cent and 77.3 per cent, respectively.