KOCHI: Just as the proposal to divest the government stake in Air India got an in-principle nod, the Air India Express (AIE), the low cost arm of the national carrier, posted a net profit for its second consecutive year.According to the Airline’s Board of Directors which met on Wednesday, AIE made a net profit of Rs 296.7 crore in the 2016-17 fiscal. Though lower than its net profit of Rs 361.68 crore in the 2015-16 fiscal, the feat comes as a big boost to the budget carrier AIE, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air India.
AIE CEO K Shyam Sundar said, “the net profit earned in 2016-17 is significant as competition from Indian private carriers increased considerably during the year. Adding to it were the sluggish Gulf economies where 90 per cent of our capacities are deployed and the large increase in capacity offered by AIE. We had to overcome the challenges to achieve this success.”
The AIE also increased its revenue by 14 per cent. The total revenue recorded was Rs 3,335 crore. Prudent commercial and management interventions, including better utilisation of its assets, gave rise to reduction of about five to seven per cent in unit costs contributing to the positive financial outcome. The average daily aircraft utilisation rose to 12.2 hours from 11.3 hours.
The capacity offered by AIE went up by 33 per cent even as the its fleet size progressively increased through the year from 17 to 23 aircrafts. The year also saw AIE expanding its wings into highly competitive markets out of Delhi and Mumbai and launching services from Kolkata and Chandigarh.
The airline introduced operations on 11 new routes and increased frequency/capacity on 13 sectors in the period. Consequently, the number of passengers carried increased by 22 per cent to reach 34.2 lakhs from 28 lakhs in 2015-16, said AIE officers. Online meal bookingDuring the year, AIE also introduced online meal booking facility and launched its mobile app.