NEW DELHI: State-owned Air India is planning to increase the daily utilisation of its aircraft both on domestic as well as international routes, a senior company official said on Tuesday.
According to Air India Director of Finance, Vinod Hejmadi, the company is planning to use its aircraft for at least half hour more per day. "Our daily utilisation of airplanes is not very good. It's around 10 and a half hours on Airbus route (domestic routes). We can increase it by half an hour. Even in the international routes, our 787s fly around 12 and a half hours per day. We can increase it to 13 and half hours," he said at CAPA India Aviation Summit 2019.
The government has been working on ways to revive the fortunes of Air India, which is estimated to have a debt burden of Rs 55,000 crore.
Hejmadi further said that the national carrier would now focus again on the United States market by increasing its frequencies, indicating a shift of focus from Europe. "On the international front, we concentrated on Europe a year ago. In fact, we started destinations to Scandinavia, Milan, Vienna, Madrid. We are redirecting our vision on the North America route," Hejmadi said.
He added that the company is planning to add three frequencies (flights) to one of the destinations in United States. These three extra flights would be either to San Francisco, Chicago or New York. In US, existing frequencies would be enhanced. Najaf is the one we have started now. We plan to consolidate, not expand further. We want to curtail the costs of opening up new offices and the return of investment is very late," he added. "After the success of Indian cricket team, we would be increasing our frequencies to Melbourne. That is in the pipeline," he said.
Moreover, he admitted that the national carrier is finding difficult to compete with the low-cost carriers in the country domestically and that is why it is shifting its focus to tier II to tier III cities to gain market share.
All scheduled domestic airlines apart from Vistara, Jet Airways and Air India are low-cost carriers. "Everybody else (airline) is inducting fleet. In the domestic market, I must admit that we can not compete with LCCs (low-cost carriers). On the domestic metro routes, it is very difficult to compete with the low-cost carriers. Our focus would be on tier II to or tier III cities," he said.