Air India to fly into Africa, Scandinavia in a big way
Air India aims to provide point-to-point connectivity to African and Scandinavian regions, where it currently does not operate, besides enhancing services on existing routes, as part of its aggressive network expansion plan.
In the immediate future, the government-run airline will launch services to Washington, DC from the national capital, Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwanai Lohani said, adding, the national carrier is also looking at taking its services to African and Scandinavian countries.
Air India plans to expand further in the US, where it already operates in four places -- New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Newark, Lohani said. “We will soon launch a flight service to Washington DC from New Delhi,” he said. In the last four months alone, Air India has added two international destinations --San Francisco and Vienna in its network.
It is all set to launch five-times-a-week services to the Austrian city Vienna from here from tomorrow. In Europe, the airline currently flies to seven cities including London, Paris, Milan and Franfurt. “In the next couple of years, we will be expanding our international network in a big way. Very soon we are looking at connecting the fifth US destination with Delhi with a non-stop service to Washington, DC. (Then) We have Madrid, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Stockholm, which we are looking at as well,” Air India Director (Commercial), Pankaj Srivastava said.
The airline currently operates to 35 international destinations across the US, Europe, Australia, Far East and South East Asia and the Gulf. A senior Air India official had last month said that the airline was planning to expand its Boeing wide-body feet in view of the proposed international route expansion.
“The choice of these four destinations is predominantly because there is till now no direct connectivity between Spain and India. Also, there are no direct connections at present to Scandinavian countries. So, this gives us opportunity to tap these bright spots,” Srivastava said.
He said Air India teams are doing the necessary viability study in this regard, adding, “hopefully we should be able to mount flights to these European destinations going forward.” According to Srivastana, Air India is also looking at reviving its flying operations to Kenya and Tanzania, which it had discontinued some years back.
“We are looking at connecting some of the points in African continents. We used to operate to Nairobi and Dar es Salaam from Mumbai, which we discontinued a few years ago. With the capacity (aircraft) coming in, we should be able to connect these two cities in the region,” he said.