Air India To Expand Route Network

Tuesday, 29th July 2014 at 03:47am

Air India is planning to embark on an aggressive route expansion program soon after it gets inducted to Star Alliance, said to be the first and largest network of global carriers ever formed.

The state-owned flag carrier was officially inducted to the alliance on July 11 after a long wait since it started its application process in 2007.

After the induction, airline chairman, Rohit Nandan disclosed that the airline will expand its footprint in India, as well as its European network in just within a year of its formal admission to the alliance.

He added that they are considering to strike a balance in their domestic and international networks from the current 60:40, with its international network getting the favor.

The airline is reportedly keen on launching flights to three countries in Europe, namely, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Spain. It is also contemplating on introducing return flights on the routes Delhi-Madrid-Barcelona and Delhi-Amsterdam-Copenhagen.

Early this year, the airline has commenced services between Delhi and Italian cities of Rome and Milan. It also started its Delhi-Moscow service after long years of absence.

The admission of Air India into the alliance has been a rough road for the airline since it started its application process in 2007, only to be suspended in 2011 after it failed to meet certain requirements. The financial crisis that gripped the airline since its merger with Indian Airlines in 2006 was seen as the reason for the suspension of its application. It has not since recovered from its trouble even after the government bailed it out from huge losses and indebtedness.

In what could be a surprising twist, it received an invitation from the Star Alliance CEO himself in December of last year to reapply for membership. In May this year, all existing members of the alliance voted unanimously to admit Air India, leading to its July 11 induction.

Being a member of Star Alliance, Air India has now the opportunity to grow its market and possibly increase its revenue while, at the same time, scrape off its indebtedness and tame its losses. But the biggest winner must be the loyal Air India customers who will enjoy expanded benefits including earning points on any of the other 26 member airlines.

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