Kochi: Air India, the national carrier of the country, is exploring the possibility of operating direct flights to London from Kochi in the near future. This was informed by A Anilkumar, Station Manager, Air India, Kochi in an interview with Destination Kerala soon after assuming charge.
‘‘Currently, Air India does not operate direct flights to the West from Kerala. We are working towards launching a direct flight to the West. If things go as per plan, Air India will be the first airline to start a West-bound direct flight from Kerala. We will require a wide-body aircraft to operate in the sector and have to undertake the cost-benefit analysis,’’ Anilkumar said.
Anilkumar, who started off his career in Kochi as an employee of the airline 27 years ago, feels that Kerala market is highly competitive. ‘‘Now in any sector being operated from Kerala, we have an average of 5000 to 6000 seats. In a week, we have 14,000 seats in the Kochi-New Delhi sector itself. For us, the average passenger load factor is 85 per cent. We are chalking out a plan of action to better it in the coming fiscal. Moreover, we believe that Air India's customer service is far better than that of its competitors. Take Kochi-Dubai Dreamliner, for instance. Even though our fares are a little higher compared to other carriers, we have huge demand for seats,’’ he said.
As the national carrier, Air India connects 74 destinations in India and 44 abroad, spread across US, Australia, Europe, Far and South-east Asia and the Gulf. Overall, Air India operates around 450 flights per day offering over 70,000 seats. London being a preferred destination of Indians, Air India has five daily flights from India to London, the recent addition being one from Ahmedabad to London. Besides the latest destinations on the Air India network – Washington, Copenhagen and Stockholm, the airline is also introducing flights to Los Angeles, Houston, Tel Aviv and Nairobi in the coming months.
Air India is also young at heart. Its 130-strong fleet – a mix of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, B777s and A320 family, apart from the CRJs and ATR aircraft – is one of the youngest in the world. While the technologically advanced Dreamliner has been a game changer for the airline, it is the B777s that ushered in an era of non-stop long-haul flights. B777 aircraft fly non-stop to Chicago, New York and Newark, San Francisco and Washington.
With the fuel-efficient B787 Dreamliner, Air India has been offering its passengers a comfortable and enjoyable experience on its non-stop flights from India to several destinations like London, Rome, Milan, Paris, Vienna, Madrid, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Osaka, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Dubai and more. Besides, the Dreamliners have been hugely popular for their domestic operations involving Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Amritsar.
Air India’s subsidiary – Air India Express, with its B737 fleet, offers domestic and international connectivity and is on an expansion mode of late. Alliance Air with its new ATR72 aircraft is also spreading its wings extensively on the regional sectors with its mission of ‘Connecting India’.