Thursday, July 15, 2010

Air India To Move Flights From Frankfurt Connecting Hub To Delhi


Aviation Daily Jul 15 , 2010 , p. 10
Neelam Mathews

Air India says it will shift some of its international flights from its Frankfurt connecting hub to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

The service will start fully functioning by year-end 2011, once the airline’s domestic and international operations are fully integrated.

Air India (AI) will also start operating to new nonstop destinations — Melbourne, Toronto and Chicago — while resuming services to Seoul with the winter schedule. Paris and Tokyo are expected to become dailies.

With the planned increases, AI will operate 143 international services offering about 33,000 seats per week in each direction on routes from Delhi, up from 22,500 seats.

Domestically, AI’s operations from Delhi are being further strengthened to 47 domestic destinations with increased frequencies, as well as nonstop and direct services. Domestic flights are planned to increase to 71 from 62, with capacity rising to 10,200 seats per day in each direction from 8,600.

Seats offered by AI on all its services from Delhi will increase to about 104,000 from 82,000 per week in each direction, up 25%.

For the past year, the carrier used Frankfurt to connect its flights with Europe and the U.S.; however, this proved to be expensive, Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav told Aviation Week a few months ago.

AI used a code-share agreement with its soon-to-be Star Alliance partner Lufthansa to give its passengers convenient connections to destinations in Germany, other points in Europe and the U.S via Frankfurt. At Frankfurt, a passenger flying from Delhi to Newark was transferred to the Mumbai-Newark flight, and a person traveling to Chicago from Mumbai changed to the Delhi-Chicago flight. AI will continue to run some flights to Frankfurt, but all flights connecting to the U.S. and some to Europe via Frankfurt will become direct from Delhi, which just opened a new Terminal 3 at the Delhi airport.

The hub decision will give Air India an opportunity for a makeover, Jadhav says. “This is part of our turnover plan. We expect long-term benefits of 15-20%.”

“The inauguration of T3 was a moment of pride ... for its national carrier, Air India. The airline is currently in the middle of implementing its turnaround plan, which aims at repositioning a fundamentally different carrier while also connecting maximum passengers through nonstop and one-stop routes to destinations on its network,” adds Jadhav.

He says the opening of T3 provided AI an opportunity to be the first to develop a formidable primary hub, from which it will be able to connect India to the world.

Air India says its goal is to establish a dominant domestic carrier that would use narrowbody aircraft to seamlessly feed into the medium-haul and long-haul widebody aircraft. The combined network would provide the customer with end-to-end service.

Increased passengers at T3 are expected to boost transit traffic from 3% to 30% in the next five years, says P.S. Nair, CEO of the Delhi airport.

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