Air-India on Tuesday took the delivery of the first of the three Boeing 737-800s for its subsidiary A-I Express for operations to the Gulf.
At a function at the Boeing airport in Seattle, A-I Director (corporate affairs) Amod Sharma cut a ribbon to take delivery of the 181-seater all economy aircraft.
Beginning April end, the A-I Express will fly a total of 37 flights a week primarily to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Three each of these flights will operate from Mumbai and Delhi, 31 services will operate from Kerala.
The new Boeing 737-800 has a red strip running across from the centre till the end of the fuselage with a trunk of a caparison elephant and a camel on the other side of the tail and Air-India Express written in Hindi as well as English.
The tail of a total of 14 other aircraft to be taken on lease will reflect the Indian culture and every aircraft would have a separate theme, A-I Director Public Relations, Jitender Bhargava said
The no-frills A-I Express has taken 62 hostess from Kerala on contract, 30 aircraft maintenance engineers and 45 technicians for the launch of the low-cost airline from three destinations in Kerala to the Gulf in the first phase beginning April end, 2005.
Pilots and co-pilots are currently undergoing training while the cabin crew would undergo flight safety training, Bhargava informed.
As part of cost containing exercise, the new airline, to be operated by A-I Charters Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of A-I, is launching e-ticketing and internet booking.
By March next year, A-I Express plans to launch 127 flights a week, which will include providing direct connection from the four metros to the south east destinations and between Mumbai and Delhi to the Gulf.
The national carrier has also lined up a major expansion plan beginning next month with more frequencies and links to various destinations in the United States.
The airline is planning to connect Chicago and Los Angeles with a daily frequency from March 28 as against six and five services respectively at present.
Delhi is to be connected thrice weekly with Los Angeles via Frankfurt, while four flights would be operated out of Mumbai, Bhargava said.