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AXB-737 767 JAN07
AXB-VISIT THE TAJ MAHAL
Formed in 2004 and started operations in 2005. D B A "Air India Charters Ltd." Domestic, regional & international, scheduled & charter, passenger & cargo jet airplane services.
Nariman Point, 218 Backbay Reclamation
Mumbai 400021, India
INDIA (REPUBLIC OF INDIA) WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1947, IT COVERS AN AREA OF 3,287,590 SQ KM, ITS POPULATION IS 970 MILLION, ITS CAPITAL CITY IS NEW DELHI, AND ITS OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ARE HINDI AND ENGLISH.
June 2004: Air-India (AIN) will lease 14 737-800's, 189Y, in 3 phases, to launch a low-cost carrier to be called Air-India Express (AXB), starting operations in April 2005 to tap the Middle East and SE Asia markets operating from New Delhi and Mumbai. Initially, will offer 127x-weekly from Chennai, Delhi, Kerala, and Mumbai to the Gulf and SE Asia destinations.
December 2004: In May 2005, Air-India Express (AXB), Chennai to Kuala Lumpur (direct); & Delhi to Kuala Lumpur.
February 2005: 1 order 737-8BK (33023, VT-AXC), CIT (TCI) leased for Air India Express (AXB) operations. 1 737-86Q (30296, VT-AXA), Boullioun (BOU), 181Y, medium-term lease to (AXB) to operate 6x- to 7x-daily to & from Kerala, the Gulf region, and SE Asia.
April 2005: Commenced operations with an inaugural flight between the southern Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
September 2005: Air India Express (AXB) is taking over more Air-India (AIN) routes. (AXB) will operate Delhi to Bahrain from April, 2006 and Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai from October.
October 2005: Air India (AIN) will inaugurate nonstop service from Pune to Dubai on December 12th. (AIN) will operate 3x-weekly on Mondays/Thursdays/Fridays. (AXB) announced it will operate 12x-weekly into Doha when it launches service there in April. (AXB) will operate 3x- to Mumbai, 2x- to Delhi and 7x- to 3x- Kerala Airports. Flights will be operated with a 737-800. (AXB) will inaugurate service from Calicut to Sharjah at the end of the month and operate 4 flights a week using a 737-800.
November 2005: Air India Express (AXB) has an order for 18 737-800s.
December 2005: Air-India (AIN) Express will take over Doha service currently operated by Air India (AIN) in April. (AIN) now operates 6x-weekly and that number will double to 12x- with (AXB) operating 7x-weekly from Kochi, 3x- a week from Mumbai and 2x-weekly from Delhi, all with 737-800s.
(AIN) is also adding 737-800s for its Air-India (AIN) Express subsidiary.
February 2006: Air India Express (AXB) is planning to launch new routes from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore by the end of March. Each of the routes would be served with 6x-weekly using 737-800s and will be possible after the airline takes delivery of 4 new airplanes. (AXB) will develop Tiruchi as a major hub of operations in the southern region, including flights to Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai and Singapore. (AXB) will delay the start of a dozen weekly flights to Doha from a planned start in April to November due to a lack of airplanes.
May 2006: 2 737-8Q8's (29369, VT-AXF; 30701, VT-AXG), (ILF) leased for Air India Express (AXB) operations.
July 2006: Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) said Air India Express (AXB), a subsidiary of Air-India (AIN), ordered 18 Blended Winglet shipsets to be installed on its recently ordered 737-800s, beginning in October. In addition, it has taken delivery of 4 new Blended Winglet-equipped 737-800s on lease from (ILFC) (ILF).
September 2006: Air India Express (AZB) will inaugurate service from Amritsar to Dubai as well as from Mangalore to Dubai in October and operate 3x-weekly on Mondays, Thursdays, & Saturdays, on each of the routes using a 737-800.
November 2006: Air-India Express (AXB) inaugurated nonstop service from Chennai to Singapore. (AXB) now operates 5x-weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays, using a 737-800.
Air-India (AIN) started construction on a INR500 million/$11.1 million maintenance base at Thiruvananthapuram Airport. The 15 acres of land was transferred to the carrier by the Kerala government free of charge. Construction is scheduled to be completed in mid-2008. The base will service primarily 737-800s operated by (AXB).
737-8HJ (36323, VT-AXH), delivery - see photo for (AXB). 767-3YOER (26205, CS-TLQ), EuroAtlantic (MAE) wet-leased.
December 2006: 737-8HJ (36324, VT-AXI), delivery.
January 2007: 3 737-8HGs (36325, VT-AXJ; 36326, VT-AXM; 36327, VT-AXN), deliveries. (VT-AXM) tail logo depicts the opulent interiors of Meherangarh Fort Palace, Jodhpur on one side and the magnificent interiors of the Mysore Palace, Karnataka, on the other side. (VT-AXN) showcases 2 other important palaces of India: Ujjayanta Palace in Agarthala, Tripura, on 1 side, and Hawa Mahal "Palace of the winds," Jaipur, Rajesthan, on the other side - see photo.
February 2007: Indian government ministers approved the merger of Air-India (AIN) and Indian Airlines (IND). The next stage is final approval at a cabinet meeting next month, and Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel told media he expects approvals to be completed by the end of March. According to sources, the name and head office of the new airline are yet to be decided, but what has been approved is a structure around 6 business units. These are expected to be Passenger, Cargo, Ground Handling, Low-cost Air Services, Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) and Allied Businesses, including Information Technology (IT), In-flight Entertainment, and Catering. According to the "Economic Times," low-cost subsidiaries Air India Express (AXB) and Alliance Air (ALX) also will be merged.
(AXB) launched 10x-weekly Chennai to Singapore Changi service, becoming the 1st Indian Low Cost Carrier (LCC) to fly to Singapore. (AXB) now operates 57x-weekly flights from 9 Indian cities: Thiruvananthapuram; Kochi; Koshikode; Mumbai; Delhi; Pune; Amritsar; Mangalore; & Chennai. 7 foreign stations on the network are Dubai; Abu Dhabi; Sharjah; Al Ain; Muscat; Salalah; & Singapore.
May 2007: "Air India" (AIN)/(IND) will be the name of the new state-owned airline, resulting from the merger of the old Air-India (AIN) and Indian Airlines (IND), Minister of Civil Aviation, Praful Patel announced, adding that the new company will have its registered office in New Delhi, its corporate office in Mumbai, and headquarters for domestic operations and most strategic business units in Delhi. "As (AIN)/(IND) is a globally and nationally recognized brand name, as well as the designated airline in international bilaterals it has been decided that the merged entity would continue with the same name," the Ministry said. The logo and livery for the airline will adopt elements from both constituent carriers. Combining the deep red of (AIN) and the orange of (IND), the new (AIN)/(IND) will operate white airplanes with red and orange highlights on the fuselage, a red belly and an orange "Konark Chakra," wheel graphic on a red vertical stabilizer, and red nacelles. Patel said the merged company will start operating in July with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) planned for next year, according to press reports.
SR Technics (SWS) reached agreement with (AIN) to maintain the (CFM56-7B) engines and (GTCP131-9B) Auxiliary Power Units (APU)s installed on Air India Express (AXB) 737-800s. (SWS) valued the three-year agreements at up to $22 million.
737-8HJ (36329, VT-AXQ), delivery.
September 2007: 20 (JAT) Airways flight crew (FC) have joined Air India Express (AXB) for 737-800 operations.
October 2007: Alliance Air (ALX) merged into Air India Express (AXB).
The Ex-Im Bank signed a $363.5 million guarantee of an ABN AMRO loan for the acquisition of 737-800s and (CFM56) spares for use by (AXB).
737-8HJ (36332, VT-AXU), delivery.
January 2008: 737-8HG (36333, VT-AXV), delivery for Air India Express (AXB) operations.
May 2008: India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed to further liberalize their air services agreement covering passenger flights to and from Dubai, in a long-delayed move that will open the market significantly. Under the new agreement, airlines from each side will be allowed to carry up to 54,200 passengers per week in each direction by the 2009/2010 winter season, representing an increase of +23,000 on the previous deal. The new agreement had been under discussion for some time and should help to ease complaints of significant under-capacity in the market. Capacity has not kept up with demand due partly to fast growth in Dubai's population of Indian migrant workers. The new bilateral comes as India has been allowing more international services by privately owned carriers and as Dubai is setting up a new low-cost carrier that will almost certainly seek to operate to India. India's Jet Airways (JPL), which began serving Abu Dhabi in late April, will also likely benefit. It does not yet have Dubai rights, but has been applying for them and now expects it will be able to launch services to Dubai from several Indian cities.
Air India (AIN)'s low-cost unit Air India Express (AXB) has also unveiled plans to launch flights to Dubai from Ahmedabad, Goa, Hyderabad, and Pune. (AXB) already connects Dubai with 12 other Indian cities and these services are considered among its most lucrative. (AXB) also serves Abu Dhabi from 5 Indian cities and Sharjah from 3. Demand for services from all of the (UAE)'s major cities has been growing rapidly. Abu Dhabi-based, Etihad (EHD) now serves 6 cities in India, and is keen to serve several more, while Sharjah-based Air Arabia (ABZ) is also keen to expand its Indian network, which already consists of 11 cities. Air Arabia (ABZ) said its passenger numbers on its India routes grew +43% in the first quarter with an average load factor of 94% LF.
February 2009: Air India Express (AXB) is a low cost carrier (LCC) subsidiary of Air India (AIN), operating jet airplane flights to nine international destinations within around 4 hours flying time from 10 Indian cities.
Parent organization/shareholders: Air India (AIN)/(IND) (100%).
(IATA) Code: IX. (ICAO) Code: AXB.
Main Base: Mumbai Chhatrpati Shivaj International airport (BOM).
Hub: Delhi Indira Gandhi International airport (DEL).
(AIN)'s low-cost subsidiary, (AXB) added its 21st airplane, a 737-8HG (36336, VT-AXZ). (AXB) will use the plane on a weekly, Srinagar to Dubai flight starting February 14. (AXB) now operates 176x-weekly flights to 16 Indian and 14 international destinations.
March 2009: (SR) Technics (SWS) and Air India (AIN) announced that their existing maintenance contract covering Air India Express (AXB)'s (CFM56-7B) engines will expand to include (CFM56-5B)s on (IND)'s fleet of 27 A320 family airplanes (planned to increase to 43 by 2010). The extended contract will expire in May 2010 and contains an extension clause for an additional 2 years. Services will be performed at (SR) Technics (SWS)'s engine services center in Zurich.
The Indian economy, not terribly dependent on trade, grew +5% last quarter.
April 2009: 737-8HJ (36337, VT-AYA), delivery.
May 2009: Air India (AIN) parent, National Aviation Company of India named Karnataka state government Infrastructure Development Department Principal Secretary Arvind Jadhav as its Chairman & Managing Director replacing Raghu Menon. Ministry of Civil Aviation Joint Secretary & Financial Adviser Bharat Bhushan had held the post on an interim basis.
June 2009: Air India (AIN)/(IND) said Chairman & Managing Director Arvind Jadhav has "requested" all executives at the General Manager level and above to "voluntarily forego" their salaries and incentive payments in July. (AIN)/(IND) said it would defer employee checks by 2 weeks until July 15.
July 2009: Air India (AIN)/(IND) parent, National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL) is expected to report a loss of approximately -INR50 billion/-$1.02 billion for its fiscal year ended March 31, some 25% more than the figure targeted last month, Indian Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel informed the national parliament's upper house. He wrote that (NACIL)'s deficit is "largely due to high operating expenses, which have been compounded due to the present economic recession resulting in a drop in passengers," in addition to high fuel prices and debt servicing, the "Press Trust of India (PTI)" reported.
(NACIL) reportedly owes INR5.99 billion to Airports Authority of India and another INR5.42 billion to oil companies. Patel said (AIN)/(IND)'s management will be reorganized, with a new (COO) to be added along with seven new independent directors, according to the (PTI). "You will see in the next 30 days a major change in the top management in (AIN)/(IND). You are going to see a major change in the board. Some heads are going to roll. We are going to bring high-quality people with a proven track record in business," Patel said.
He also reiterated his support for (AIN)/(IND)'s entry into the low-cost market. "That's where the growth is and is something that Jet Airways (JPL) and Kingfisher (KFH) have already done. It's up to (AIN)/(IND) whether to use Air India Express (AXB) for that purpose or something else," he said, according to "Asian News International."
Indian Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said the government is strongly considering providing a INR25 billion/$512 million capital injection to Air India (AIN)/(IND). "We want to infuse equity," he told "Bloomberg News." "Air India (AIN)/(IND)'s equity base is very low." (AIN)/(IND) parent National Aviation Company of India reportedly owes INR5.99 billion to Airports Authority of India and another INR5.42 billion to oil companies. Patel previously has said (AIN)/(IND)'s management will be reorganized, with a new (COO) to be added along with 7 new independent directors. He said that (AIN)/(IND) eventually would go public, at which point it would pay back the "soft loans" it will receive from the government. He added that the carrier will seek deferments on loans from banks, return some leased airplanes and defer or cancel airplanes on order, according to "Bloomberg."
He assured that (AIN) would not cut workers, though some employees may be reassigned. Additionally, the government is reviewing whether to allow foreign airlines to buy significant stakes in Indian carriers as a way to bring new capital into the country's ailing air transport market.
737-8HG (36338, VT-AYB), delivery.
August 2009: Air India (AIN)/(IND) parent, National Aviation Company of India (NACIL) said in a Draft Restructuring Plan that over the next 9 months it plans to "enhance [its] focus on [developing a] Low Cost Carrier (LCC) for high-density domestic/international routes" along with an "aggressive route restructuring" and intends to create subsidiaries for its Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO), ground handling and cargo operations. Within 18 to 36 months (NACIL) said it expects "profitable growth" and hopes to spin off "non-core businesses" and prepare for an Initial Public Offering (IPO). The company is seeking government aid.
Air India (AIN)/(IND) employees represented largely by the Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) and the Aviation Industry Employees Guild continued with a hunger strike in protest of planned wage cuts. An (AIN)/(IND) spokesperson told "The Economic Times," "We have a well formulated contingency plan and have deployed additional manpower to ensure smooth operations." Some 20,000 employees, or about two-thirds the carrier's workforce, reportedly are involved. (ACEU) General Secretary, J B Kadian said (AIN)/(IND) management "is delaying and ignoring us. It is also reducing our salaries to half." The "International Business Times" reported that (AIN)/(IND) plans to cut productivity bonuses by up to -50%. Those payments comprise one-third to one-half of many employees' take-home pay and cost (AIN)/(IND) approximately $300 million in 2008, the paper said. Talks between management and union representatives reportedly broke down.
(AIN) is discussing the cancellation of 6 777 orders with Boeing (TBC), (AIN) confirmed to several news organizations. It finalized an order for 23 777s, 27 787s and 18 737-800s in early 2006. "Considering that (AIN) has a long-standing relationship with (TBC), we are confident the dialogue will able to move forward to face the current crisis afflicting the global aviation industry," an (AIN) spokesperson told "Agence France Presse." (AIN)/(IND) is a undergoing restructuring as a condition for government aid.
September 2009: Air India (AIN)/(IND) said it presented its turnaround plan to the government's Committee of Secretaries and that, "while appreciating the various measures taken by (AIN)/(IND), the committee felt that in some areas more aggressive cost reduction measures were required to be adopted and the company also needs to examine its strategic position with respect to its shareholders' objectives." (AIN)/(IND) said the committee directed the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in consultation with the Ministry of Finance, to present a loan or bailout proposal to the cabinet. Indian media cited several sources indicating that the government will provide some INR50 billion/$1.01 billion in aid over the next 3 years as long as (AIN)/(IND) continues to cut costs.
737-8HG (36339, VT-AYC), delivery.
December 2009: 737-8HG (36340, VT-AYD), delivery.
January 2010: Indian airlines carried 44.5 million passengers in 2009, up +7.9% from the prior year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation reported. Fourth-quarter traffic soared +30.5% year-over-year to 12.5 million passengers and December traffic rose +34.8% to 4.5 million.
Jet Airways (JPL) (17.9%) and JetLite (SAQ) (7.5%) led all companies in full-year market share with a combined 25.4%, followed by Kingfisher Airlines (KFH) at 23.9% and Air India (AIN) with 17.5%. IndiGo (IGO) (13.9%) and Spicejet (ROJ) (12.4%) rounded out the top 5. Indian carriers cut capacity during the 1st half of 2009 but registered year-over-year increases in both (RPK)s traffic and (ASK)s capacity in each of the year's last 6 months.
December (RPK)s rose nearly +40% over the year-ago month, with average load factor surpassing 80% LF owing to the peak season. IndiGo (IGO) posted a 90% LF load factor for the month, with Jet (JPL) posting the lowest figure at 78.2% LF.
India's airlines transported 43.8 million passengers on domestic routes in 2009. Kingfisher (KFH) led the way with a 23.9% share equal to 10.5 million passengers, followed by (JPL) at 17.9% and (AIN)/(IND) at 17.5%.
February 2010: The Indian government announced final approval of an INR8 billion/$173.7 million equity infusion into Air India (AIN)/(IND) parent, National Aviation Company of India, with the release of the funds "calibrated to the achievement of milestones laid down by the [cabinet]" including a -28% fleet reduction.
The government said the equity "would not only ease the cash flow situation of the company but would also preclude borrowings from the markets at a high cost." (AIN)/(IND) lost -INR14.74 billion in its fiscal third quarter ended December 31 and "is currently facing severe financial losses compounded by its costly legacy assets, weakening revenue stream and high cost structure." It said (AIN)/(IND)'s operating loss through the fiscal 1st half was -INR2.03 billion. The government said (AIN)/(IND) has agreed to a INR19.11 billion cost reduction program for the year ending March 31.
In addition, it will reduce its fleet from 146 airplanes to 105 by March 2011. 22 already have been pegged for departure through lease, sale or their return to a lessor, which will result in annual savings of -INR2 billion in maintenance and inventory costs, -INR4 billion in fuel costs and "efficiency gains" and -INR3 billion in employment expenses. Additional manpower reductions will save -INR1.13 billion.
Another INR5.63 billion will be saved this year through route rationalization, a reduction of overlap between (IND) and Air India Express (AXB) and of positioning flights and replacement of 6 747s. The government said (AIN)/(IND)'s network "will focus on profitable hub operations, leveraging partners for efficiency like [Delhi's new Terminal 3] and the Star (SAL) Alliance." The INR8 billion in funding will occur in 2 installments of INR4 billion each.
SR Technics (SWS) signed a 2-year extension of its contract with Air India (AIN)/(IND)/(AXB) parent National Aviation Company of India for maintenance services on (CFM56-5B) and (CFM56-7B) engines powering 61 A320 family and 737-800 airplanes. The contract is valued at CHF60 million/$55.7 million). Services will be performed at (SWS)'s Zurich Engine Maintenance Center.
May 2010: ACCDT: 8 people escaped the crash of an Air India Express (AXB) 737-8HG (CFM56-7B27) (2481-36333, /08 VT-AXV) jetliner with 166 people on board that overshot a hilltop runway in S India and plunged down a 200-ft gorge and burst into flames. At least some of the survivors managed to jump from the wreckage just before it burst into flames.
Firefighters struggled to reach the twisted, smoking wreckage of the 737-800, which was scattered along the hillside of thick grass and trees just outside Mangalore's Bajpe airport.
But after the 1st few minutes, there were no more survivors to be found around what remained of the Air India Express (AXB) flight from Dubai to this port city. Instead, scores of burned bodies were pulled from the blackened tangle of airplane cables, twisted metal, charred trees and mud at the crash site. Many of the dead were strapped into their seats, their bodies burned beyond recognition.
Air India (AIN), the country's national carrier, runs inexpensive flights under the Air India Express (AXB) banner to Dubai and other Middle Eastern destinations where millions of Indians are employed.
"The plane shook with vibrations and split into two," G K Pradeep, another survivor, told "CNN-IBN" television. He jumped out of the airplane with four others into a pit, he said. Moments later, a large explosion set off a blaze that consumed the wreckage, he said.
The plane was carrying 160 passengers (all Indian) and 6 crew (FC) - (CA) members, Air India (AIN) official, Anup Srivastava said. 4 infants and 19 other children were among the passengers. The British pilot (FC), who was of Serbian origin, and an Indian co-pilot (FC) were among the dead, officials said.
Employees of (JAT) Airways, the Serbian national carrier, identified the captain as Zlatko Glusica, 55, a Serb with a British passport who had been flying for Air India (AIN)/(AXB) for the past 3 years. He had previously flown for (JAT), but like many pilots (FC), had left the airline in recent years as it plunged into deep financial troubles.
The crash happened about 6 am, when the plane tried to land at Bajpe, about 19 miles/30 km outside of Mangalore, and overshot the runway, said Srivastava, the official with (AIN).
Scores of villagers scrambled over the hilly terrain to reach the wreckage, and began aiding in the rescue operation. Pre-monsoon rains over the past two days caused low visibility in the area, but officials differed on whether it was raining at the time of the crash.
The Mangalore airport's location, on a plateau surrounded by hills, made it difficult for the firefighters to reach the crash site, officials said. Aviation experts said Bajpe's "tabletop" runway, which ends in a valley, makes a bad crash inevitable when a plane does not stop in time. "If the pilot (FC) overshoots the runway, the airplane will be in trouble," said Asif, an aviation expert who uses one name. The main Runway 24/06 has gorges at either end.
Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said the plane's pilot (FC) had >10,000 hours of flying experience, including 26 landings at Mangalore. The co-pilot (FC) had >3,750 hours of experience and 66 landings at Mangalore, he said.
External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna said the Mangalore runway had a reputation for being difficult. "Our worst fears have come true," he told the "Press Trust" of India. The 8,000-foot/2,430-meter Mangalore runway had a short spillover area of about 300 feet/90 meters with a bed of sand designed to halt or slow a plane that overshoots, Patel said. "Obviously, the airplane was at a higher speed," he said.
>32,000 landings had been made on the runway since it opened in 2006, officials said.
June 2010: Goa, India is to have a new international greenfield airport at Mopa, giving it 2 airports. The airport will be constructed by the state government on a build-own-operate-transfer basis. A request for proposals will soon be released to international players.
A study conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) says it is possible to operate both Dabolim Airport and the new one with equitable distribution of traffic between them. The (ICAO) study concluded that even after the expansion, the Dabolim Airport will be saturated by 2013. It has therefore been decided that the present Dabolim Airport at Goa will not be closed to meet the requirement of increased inflow of air traffic more efficiently, and should result in balanced development of the entire state, says the government.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation forecasts +12.5% annual growth in passenger numbers in India for the next decade, suggesting that Indian airport capacity must double every six years. Airport investment in the next five years will total 400 billion rupees/$8.5 billion, about three-quarters of which will be in developments financed by both the public and private sectors, according to the Committee on Infrastructure.
Indira Gandhi International Airport has a design capacity of about 18 million passengers per year, which will rise to 60 million with the opening of a new terminal this year. The ultimate capacity is intended by 2026 to reach 100 million, which is more than any airport is currently handling anywhere in the world.
December 2010: India's Ministry of Civil Aviation reported that India's airlines carried +18.9% more domestic scheduled passengers in the 1st 11 months of 2010 compared to the corresponding period in 2009. As of November 30, Jet Airways (JPL) mainline had the highest share of the fragmented Indian domestic market at 19.2%, followed by Kingfisher (KFH) at 19.1%, IndiGo (IGO) at 17.3%, Air India (AIN)/(IND)/(AXB) at 17.1%, Spicejet (ROJ) at 13.2%, (JPL) affiliate JetLite (SAQ) at 7%, and Go Air (GOZ) at 6.9%, the Ministry stated.
March 2011: Air India (AIN)/(IND) (COO) Gustav Baldauf resigned following controversial comments made about the Indian government's role in (AIN)/(IND), according to multiple news reports from India. The Austrian native, who became the 1st to hold the (COO) title in the airline's history when he joined last April, told "The Indian Express" in an interview that the Indian government "should not be involved in day-to-day [(AIN)/(IND)] operations" and was "too prominent" in (AIN)/(IND) decision-making. According to the reports, airline management deemed the comments out of bounds for an (AIN)/(IND) executive.
The departure of the (COO) is not the only sign of tumult at the struggling carrier. (AIN)/(IND) also faces a potential strike by former Indian Airlines (IND) pilots (FC) beginning March 9. In a letter to employees sent March 3, (AIN)/(IND) Chairman & Managing Director Arvind Jadhav did not reference the (COO)'s departure but expressed concern over the looming strike by the Indian Commercial Pilots Association.
"It is time for all of us to strive and work towards a growth path which would take the company out of its present difficulties and strengthen the hands of the [Minister of Civil Aviation] to resolve various issues amicably," he said. He also cited the airline's progress in its restructuring and integration of (AIN) and (IND), including "making operational profits since November 2010."
May 2011: Air India (AIN)/(IND) said that nearly 90% of its domestic flights have been disrupted as the pilot (FC) strike wears on, forcing (AIN)/(IND) to “substantially curtail” its domestic flights through May 6. (AIN)/(IND) said it would press into service its wide body airplanes to “minimize the impact on the disruption of flights.”
However, (AIN)/(IND) said its regional operations and long-haul routes to/from the USA, UK, Europe, SE Asia (Japan, Korea, Hong Kong), China and the Gulf are operating as scheduled.
A portion of (AIN)/(IND) pilots (FC), represented by the Indian Commercial Pilots Association went on strike April 27 claiming Air India, which merged with Indian Airlines in 2007, has not addressed their complaints about a lack of pay and work condition parity with pre-merger Air India pilots (FC) and foreign pilots hired by Air India.
June 2011: Domestic Indian traffic data published by their regulatory authority the (DGCA) for January to May showed a +18% increase with market share of: Jet Airways (JPL) 26%; Kingfisher Airlines (KFH) 20%; IndiGo Airlines (IGO) 20%; SpiceJet (ROJ) 14%; Air India (AIN)/(IND)/(AXB)/(ALX) 13%; and GoAir (GOZ) 7%.
July 2011: Air India (AIN)/(IND)/(AXB) will operate 3x-weekly, Delhi to Varanasi to Gaya to Delhi service and 4x-weekly, Delhi to Gaya to Varanasi to Delhi service between October 1 to October 29.
August 2011: The Star Alliance (SAL) suspended the induction of Air India (AIN)/(IND) into the global airline grouping after (AIN)/(IND) failed to meet the minimum joining conditions agreed upon in December 2007.
The (SAL) Alliance said, "Following a recent review of the status of (AIN)/(IND)'s application at a meeting held between the Indian Ministry for Civil Aviation, (SAL) Alliance (CEO) Jaan Albrecht and [(AIN)/(IND) Chairman & Managing Director] Arvind Jadhav, the decision to suspend has received subsequent confirmation by the Star (SAL) Alliance Chief Executive board."
Albrecht stated, "With the collective decision to put the integration efforts on hold, we aim to contribute to (AIN)/(IND)'s flexibility to concentrate on its ongoing strategic reorientation. In this process, our member carriers will continue to provide assistance to (AIN)/(IND) wherever required."
The world's largest airline alliance (SAL) said that (AIN)/(IND)'s "existing bilateral relationships with Star (SAL) Alliance member airlines are not affected by this decision, which also leaves room to discuss a potential alliance membership at a future stage, if deemed appropriate by both parties."
(AIN) has been struggling for some time with the integration of Indian Airlines (IND) and is contending with mounting debts. In April, it presented a turnaround plan to a consortium of Indian bankers aimed at making the struggling carrier operationally profitable by 2015. (AIN)'s board has approved the plan, which targets INR40 billion/$898 million in annual cost cuts and INR50 billion in annual revenue enhancement.
According to (AIN), the plan includes an equity infusion, converting short-term loans to long-term loans, reducing interest rates, spinning off its Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) and ground handling subsidiaries, and resolving lingering Indian Airlines (IND) integration/merger issues.
August 2011: Air India (AIN)/(IND) estimates a loss of -Rs69.94 billion/-$154 million for the current year.
Chairman & Managing Director, Arvind Jadhav has been replaced with career civil servant, Rohit Nandan, who was most recently Joint Secretary in India's Civil Aviation Ministry.
October 2011: Air India Express (AXB) will increase 2x-weekly, Chennai to Tiruchirapalli to Abu Dhabi service to 3x-weekly on October 27.
March 2012: To overcome its airline industry's serious financial difficulties, India needs a more coherent aviation policy that creates conditions under which carriers can be more successful, according to (IATA) (ITA) Director General & (CEO), Tony Tyler.
Speaking in Hyderabad at the India Aviation 2012 conference, Tyler mapped out India's civil aviation potential. "Let's do some simple math," he said. "If India’s 1.17 billion people traveled at the same frequency as do Americans, a market of 2.1 billion travelers would be created. But even if they only traveled one-third as much, India would have an air travel market of about 700 million (rivaling that of the USA).
"There is no doubt that India is a market with big potential and that aviation could be a much more significant contributor to the Indian economy. But there are no guarantees that this will occur without well-coordinated policy measures."
He pointed to the "major hurdles" facing Indian carriers. "Air India (AIN)/(IND) (the national carrier) is being sustained on life support of state aid," Tyler said. "The difficulties at Kingfisher (KFH) are well known. And the sector as a whole is not generating the sustainable profits that one would expect from such a large high-growth market."
The Indian government could improve the country's airlines' prospects through several initiatives, he told the conference. For starters, taxes on airlines are too high, he asserted. "All [airplane] fuel [in India] is subject to an 8.24% excise duty," Tyler said. "Then domestic flights face state fuel taxes of up to 30%. The result is destroying the competitiveness of Indian airlines."
2nd, he said, airport infrastructure needs to be modernized where necessary. "Where we see value and a clear return on investment, airlines are willing partners in developing infrastructure capabilities," he added. 3rd, airport charges should be lowered.
Finally, Tyler pushed for India to end its restriction on investment in Indian carriers by foreign airlines. But he warned that "allowing foreign airlines to invest in Indian aviation is not a panacea [because under the current regulatory environment] the odds are stacked against any investor making a positive return on investment in the Indian aviation sector."
August 2012: Air India Express (AXB) has started to at least temporarily wet-lease A320-200s from parent Air India (IND) on some of its international routes. It currently uses the A320s on 3x-weekly flights from Chennai Meenambakkam (MAA) to Colombo Bandaranaike International (CMB), as well as from Kochi International (COK) to both Muscat Seeb International (MCT) and Sharjah International (SHJ) airports.
October 2012: Air India (AIN)/(AXB)/(IND) is accepting online pilot (FC) applications.
See FAPA.aero: Pilot Career Conferences & Job Fairs
...For Future & Active Pilots (FC).
February 2013: Jet Airways (JPL) is in the final phase of sealing a deal to sell a 24% stake to Abu Dhabi-based, Etihad Airways (EHD). (JPL) Founder & Chairman Naresh Goyal and (EHD) (CEO) James Hogan have been meeting with ministers responsible for Finance, Commerce and Aviation in Delhi to apprise them of details of the agreement.
The stake sale will help (JPL) retire some of its debt, which was $2.3 billion at the end of September. (EHD) is expected to pay (JPL) about $300 million for the stake, according to sources close to the deal.
(JPL) is a strong and established brand with 25% of the domestic market share. It will give (EHD) access to a huge Indian market, which despite recent challenges is projected to be among the fastest growing in the world in the next decade. In the past 2 years, (EHD) has been strategically picking up stakes in airlines around the world including Air Berlin (BER), Air Seychelles (ASY) and Virgin Australia (VOZ).
2 Middle Eastern carriers, Kuwait Airways (KUW) and Gulf Air (GUL) had a 40% stake in Jet Airways (JPL) in the mid-1990s. However, a change in Indian government regulations forced them to divest their stake to Goyal, who had emerged as one of the strongest lobbyists against allowing foreign airlines to invest in India. Ironically, his is the 1st carrier to benefit from the change in policy.
Analysts in Mumbai said (JPL) could use maintenance services in Abu Dhabi and import aviation fuel directly from the emirate to circumvent the huge sales tax on local purchases. For (JPL), the deal provides access to a global network and ability to funding support that it could use to order more narrow body airplanes.
The strengthening of Jet Airways (JPL)’s Middle Eastern links could impact Indian flag carrier, Air India (AIN)/(IND) in a significant way. The airline, through its low-cost carrier (LCC) arm, Air India Express (AXB), connects almost all the major cities in the region. Viability of these short-haul international operations is likely to be hit with the new alliances. The government’s current position is that it will not allow Air India (AIN)/(IND) to be opened up to a strategic partner. However, other private airlines including SpiceJet (ROJ) and Go Air (GOZ) are negotiating with international airlines for possible stake sales.
(AIN)/(IND), which is soon set to expand its long-haul offering, commenced operations on the 500 km domestic route from Dehradun (DED) to Lucknow (LKO), both located in the north of the country. Beginning on May 2, (AIN)/(IND) offers 4 weekly departures between the 2 cities, which have never before been linked by air. Chief Minister, Vijay Bahuguna, who spoke during the event, said: “Convenient for people of the Uttarakhand state residing in Lucknow, the new link will also boost tourism and is very important for development efforts.” Flights are operated using CRJ700 regional jets.
Air India (AIN) Chairman & Managing Director Rohit Nandan has indicated Air India (AIN) is considering starting new routes this year to Milan, Washington DC, Melbourne, Australia and Birmingham, UK.
He confirmed this by saying "“We are introducing Rome and Milan, Moscow, Birmingham (UK) within the next 3 to 5 months, then we are introducing (flights to) Australia.” Both Melbourne and Sydney are cited as being (AIN)’s Australian route targets. While clearly he is hedging his bets by suggesting Rome and Milan, as well as Sydney and Melbourne, the two latter points in each country are expected to be the first to be launched.
Mentioning Moscow and Birmingham (UK) in the same sentence is not too strange, as (AIN) once flew Birmingham to Moscow to Amritsar with its 707s in the early 1980s. However, the last time (AIN) served Birmingham was between May 2005 and October 2008, so hopefully this time it will be 3rd time lucky for the UK Midlands airport. An October or November launch for Birmingham would seem the most likely start date, to capitalize on the peak traffic volumes between December and March.
Returning to Moscow, a destination which had not previously been mooted by (AIN), will see Air India (AIN) up against Aeroflot (ARO)’s daily A330 operation from its Moscow Sheremetyevo hub, according to schedules for 1 to 7 May. On that basis, and in order to avoid direct head-to-head competition, (AIN) may elect to offer a Moscow Domodedovo connection instead, although a link to Moscow Vnokovo, which is closer to downtown Moscow than its competitor, would be a significant scalp for the city’s resurgent third airport, thanks largely to Transaero Airlines (TRO) recent growth there.
Out of (AIN)’s two most likely choices for the Indian end of the route (Delhi and/or Mumbai), Air India (AIN) has chosen the capital, Delhi. “We will use Delhi as a hub, and as and when Mumbai will have capacity (which I am told will be soon), it will be a natural second hub for us,” said (AIN)’s boss. Notably, his comment seems to suggest a dual-hub strategy for the airline going forward.
While these route decisions seem to have been made by (AIN), it is still to be clarified where it plans to add in the USA, however, Nandan states (in reference to the USA market): “We may look at expansion provided there is a market for it. We will look at newer destinations.”
February 2014: Air India (AIN)/(IND) incurred a loss of -Rs 39.89 billion/-$666 million for 2013 to 2014 on revenues of Rs 202.59 billion. This was an improvement over 2012 to 2013, when the airline lost -Rs 54.90 billion after earning revenues of Rs 242.48 billion, according to an announcement made by Minister for Civil Aviation, Ajit Singh in Parliament. (AIN)/(IND) is unlisted and does not share its performance numbers every quarter.
(AIN)/(IND)’s losses have been coming down steadily over the past three years, but debt remains a matter of concern. Outstanding debt stood at Rs 260 billion and working capital loans were about Rs 211 billion, the Minister said.
As a result of high interest costs, Air India (AIN)/(IND)’s total earnings in 2013 to 2014 were Rs 202.59 billion, while expenses were Rs 242.48 billion. (AIN)/(IND) has received equity support of Rs 122 billion from the Indian government. This is part of a capital infusion of Rs 302.31 billion that was committed to the airline, provided it met performance benchmarks. (AIN)/(IND) carried 14.05 million passengers in 2012 to 2013, the Minister said.
Elaborating on various steps taken by (AIN)/(IND) to shore up its profitability, he said the induction of new airplanes on domestic and international routes has led to a fall in operational and maintenance costs. The Air India group (which comprises the main airline, low cost carrier (LCC) Air India Express (AXB) and regional carrier Alliance Air (ALX)) has a fleet of 128 airplanes, of which 37 are on lease. The rest are owned by the airline.
Air India (AIN)/(IND) is slated to join the Star (SAL) Alliance later this year.
4 737-8Q8s (29368; 29369; 30696; & 30701), returned to (ILFC) who leased them to Air Transat (AIJ).
July 2014: Air India (AIN)/IND) officially joined the Star (SAL) Alliance this month. (AIN)/(IND) Chairman & Managing Director, Rohit Nandan announced that now (AIN)/(IND) is formally integrated into the Star (SAL) Alliance network, “our entire European operations, Asian Operations, [and] Pacific operations shall be through the 787 Dreamliner.”
Air India (AIN)/(INDd) officially joined the Star (SAL) Alliance ON July 11th, opening the world’s fifth-largest aviation market to the other 26 member airlines comprising the (SAL) Alliance network. The government-owned airline will be the first Indian carrier to join a global alliance.
At noon, with a Bollywood-referencing “lights, camera, action” flourish, a huge red curtain dropped at Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal 3, revealing an Airbus A320.
SEE PHOTO - - "AIN)/IND-A320-STAR ALLIANCE-2014-07" painted in the Star (SAL) Alliance livery, as (AIN)/(IND) Air India Chairman & Managing Director, Rohit Nandan and the Star (SAL) Alliance (CEO), Mark Schwab walked the red carpet out onto the tarmac to greet (AIN)/(IND) flight crew (FC) members and fellow (SAL) Alliance executives descending the A320's passenger stairs.
The day culminates a 7-year process for (AIN)/(IND). It will add nearly 400 daily flights and 50 domestic Indian destinations to the (SAL) Alliance network. (AIN)/(IND) is the 1st Indian airline to be inducted into the group and is its 27th member.
“New destinations include the industrial hubs of Aurangabad and Vadadora; [pharmaceutical production hub] Indore; textile and engineering center Coimbatore, and Jamnagar, India’s ‘oil city’,” Air India (AIN)/(IND) said.
Air India (AIN)/(IND) said the biggest growth will come from its home market, which had been served by 13 (SAL) Alliance members flying to ten destinations, holding a 13% market share. The addition of (AIN)/(IND) to the (SAL) Alliance will increase the (SAL) alliance’s market share in India to 30%.
Air India (AIN)/(IND)’s primary hub is located in Delhi, with its major secondary hub situated in Mumbai. (AIN)/(IND) had 95 airplanes in its fleet (one of the youngest in the industry, with an average age of four-and-a-half years) which includes a mix of wide body Boeing 777s, 747s, 787 Dreamliners, Airbus A330s, A321s, A320s and A319s.
August 2014: Air India Express ((IATA) Code: IX, based at Mumbai International) (AXB) will lease 8 additional airplanes for its upcoming winter season India's "Business Standard" newspaper has reported. The move, part of the Air India (AIN)/(IND) subsidiary's plans to lease 19 new 737-800s over the next 3 years, will allow (AXB) to increase its winter capacity by between +3 and +4%.
"Our plan is to add 3 to 4% capacity from the winter schedule. In addition, we will also be increasing airplane utilization from the current 188 hrs a day (by the full fleet) by another 8 to 10 hours," an airline official said.
As part of its restructuring program aimed at returning the airline to profitability in the longrun, Air India Express (AXB) intends to expand its route network into Iran and the (CIS).
At present, (AXB)'s fleet consists of 17 737-800s. (AXB) serves 9 countries, with 23 destinations on 51 routes and 47 daily flights.
March 2016: Air India Express (AXB) launched 4x-weekly services between Kozhikode (CCJ) and Ras Al Khaimah (RKT) in the (UAE) on March 28. The 2,648 km route will be flown utilizing (AXB)'s 737-800s. No other carrier operates this route. Ras Al Khaimah Airport is a base for Air Arabia (ABZ) but the only other scheduled service currently at the airport is operated by Qatar Airways (QTA) to Doha. In summer, Sun Express Deutschland operates a number of charter services from various German airports. Air India Express (AXB) already serves Al Ain (UAE), Doha (Qatar), and Salalah (Oman) from Kozhikode.
April 2016: Air India Express (AXB) has grown its presence in Mumbai (BOM) with the addition of 2 new daily services to Dubai (DXB) and Sharjah (SHJ). Both routes were launched on April 7 using the low cost carrier (LCC)’s 737-800s. From Mumbai (AXB) already serves Doha in Qatar. While competition on the 1,912 km route to Sharjah is limited to Air Arabia (ABZ)’s 2x-daily service, the 1,926 km Dubai route is already extremely well served.
Air India Express (AXB) will be going up against 6 other carriers on the route to the world’s busiest international airport: Jet Airways (JPL) (with 42x-weekly flights), Emirates (EAD) (35x-), IndiGo (IGO) (14x-), Air India (AIN)/(IND) (7x-), SpiceJet (ROJ) (7x-), and flydubai (FDB) (5x-). (AXB) already serves Sharjah from Kochi, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, and Varanasi, while flights to Delhi are set to start in May. Mumbai becomes the 10th Indian airport from which Air India Express (AXB) operates direct services to Dubai.
Click below for photos:
AXB-737-800 VT-AXF - 2014-08
6 +5 ORDERS 737-8BK (CFM56-7B26) (1682-33023, /05 VT-AXB; 1688-33024, /05 VT-AXC), 14 (TCI) LEASED. 189Y.
21 737-8HG (CFM56-7B27) (11892-30695, /06 VT-AXD; 1910-29368, /06 VT-AXE; 939-29369, /06 VT-AXF; 1946-30701, /06 VT-AXG; 2108-36323, VT-AXH, 2006-11 - SEE PHOTO; 2132-36324, VT-AXI, 2006-12; 2142-36325, VT-AXJ, 2007-01; 2148-36326, VT-AXM, 2007-01; 2154-36327, VT-AXN, 2007-01 - SEE PHOTO; 2177-36328, VT-AXP, 2007-02 - SEE PHOTO; 2258-36329, VT-AXQ, 2007-05; 2317-36330, VT-AXR, 2007-07; 2324-36331, VT-AXT, 2007-07; 2381-36332, VT-AXU, 2007-10; 2481-36333, VT-AXV, 2008-01 - - DESTROYED IN CRASH - - SEE ACCDT IN MAY 2010; 2612-36334, /08 VT-AXW; 36335, VT-AXX; 2782-36336, VT-AXZ, 2009-01; 2861-36337, VT-AYA, 2009-04; 2962-36338, VT-AYB, 2009-07; 3039-36339, VT-AYC, 2009-09; 3122-36340, VT-AYD, 2009-12). WINGLETS. 189Y.
0 737-8Q8 (CFM56-7B26) (1910-29368, VT-AXE, 2006-04; 1939-29369, VT-AXF, 2006-05; 30696, VT-AXD; 1892-30696, VT-AXD, 2006-03; 1946-30701, VT-AXG, 2006-05). (ILF) LEASED. RETURNED AND LEASED TO (AIJ) 2014-04. 189Y.
1 737-86Q (CFM56-7B26) (1647-30296, /05 VT-AXA), (BOU) MEDIUM-TERM LEASED 2005-02. 189Y.
ROHIT NANDAN, CHAIRMAN & MANAGING DIRECTOR (2011-08).
P P SINGH, CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER (COO).