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Air India Express Unveils Ambitious Expansion Plans for Gulf and Domestic Connectivity

Air India Express, the budget carrier, is gearing up for significant expansion, aiming to increase its capacity to the Gulf region and enhance connectivity to various Tier 2 and 3 cities across India. The move comes as part of the airline’s strategy to consolidate its network and further strengthen its market presence.

Aloke Singh, the Managing Director of Air India Express, outlined the expansion plans, stating that there will be a capacity increase to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE. While the Kerala-Gulf market is well-served, the airline is exploring opportunities to boost capacity from Kannur, offering additional options for travelers. Singh emphasized the importance of providing improved connectivity beyond points in Kerala to various cities across India, catering to the needs of passengers from the UAE and the Gulf region.

The budget carrier currently operates 195 flights between India and the UAE per week, including key destinations such as Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, and Al Ain. Across the Gulf region, it operates a total of 308 flights weekly.

As part of its rationalization program with Air India, Air India Express has recently increased flights to the UAE. The rationalization involves certain routes being served by Air India products to address premium traffic, while Air India Express focuses on value-conscious and thinner markets.

Singh highlighted the airline’s commitment to enhancing connectivity to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India. While the focus has been primarily on point-to-point services, the new strategy involves creating seamless travel experiences for passengers by offering wider connectivity within domestic routes.

Air India Express, following its successful privatization in January 2022, aims to focus on consolidating its network and expanding within existing markets. The recent integration of its subsidiaries, Air India Express and AirAsia India, has positioned the airline for a more unified and streamlined approach to operations.

Looking ahead, the airline plans to recruit a substantial number of pilots and cabin crew to support its growth initiatives. With the delivery of dozens of new aircraft, Air India Express envisions reaching a fleet of 100 aircraft by December 2024 and expanding to 175 aircraft within the next five years.

The airline has been actively recruiting, bringing on board 350 pilots in the past six months and 550 cabin crew members in the past year. Singh outlined the strategic hiring plan, indicating the onboarding of an additional 450 pilots and 700-800 cabin crew by the end of 2024.

Air India Express is set to play a pivotal role in the aviation landscape, providing enhanced connectivity options, fostering economic growth, and meeting the evolving travel needs of passengers in India and the Gulf region.

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