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AI seeking newer avenues

July 12, 2007 12:28 IST
With Air India's Gulf monopoly under threat and likely to end very soon if the civil aviation ministry has its way, the state-owned airline is now pitching aggressively for direct flights to the US and Australia to make up for the loss.

Apart from the Mumbai-New York and the New Delhi-New York direct flights, which were announced recently, the airline also plans to start 30-40 non-stop flights a week to the US (Chicago and Newark).

That apart, daily flights to Boston, Dallas and Fort Worth are also being planned among others, which will increase the number of daily flights even further. It also plans to have direct flights to Sydney and Melbourne every week by the end of this year or 2008-beginning.

The aim is the replace the Gulf with the US and Australia as the airline's largest revenue earner.

"Non-stop daily flights to cities such as Newark and Chicago will start around late November, whereas those to Australian cities such as Sydney and Melbourne will start early next year," said the airline official.

Air India will have daily non-stop Mumbai-New York flights starting August 1. This will be followed by daily flights from New Delhi to New York from November. Air India is also looking at Boston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Washington, and San Francisco.

"Right now, we are only looking at connecting these cities to Delhi and Mumbai, but after the merger, we might have seamless operations from tier-II cities via Mumbai/Delhi to these places in the US and Australia," said the airline official.

The Gulf could constitute 40 per cent of the carrier's revenue and this, analysts say, would come under attack once the monopoly ends and domestic Indian carriers can fly there.

Also a bevy of low-cost carriers and full-service carriers are making an entry into India from the Gulf. Air India officials hope that with the new thrust to the US, which constitutes for 25 per cent of its revenues, the air carrier will be able to raise the number substantially so that it replaces the Gulf as the main revenue earner.

Anirban Chowdhury in New Delhi
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