Air India wants connecting flights to Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, where it currently does not operate — part of an aggressive network expansion plan by the Indian government-owned airline, BusinessStandard reported.
“We used to operate to Nairobi and Dar es Salaam from Mumbai, which we discontinued a few years ago,” said Air India Chairman Ashwanai Lohani. “With the capacity (aircraft) coming in, we should be able to connect these two cities in the region.”
The airline is also talking to South African authorities about possible operations to Durban, an airline official said.
India’s airlines are suffering from overcapacity which has triggered fare wars, and few carriers are profitable, BangkokPost reported.
The sheer size of the domestic market is keeping the industry aloft and the government hopes big investments intransport infrastructure, including civil aviation, will help the industry grow.
India’s policy in the last few decades has been to protect Air India, but it actually had the reverse effect, harming Air India as a noncompetitive carrier, according to Peter Harbison, executive chairman of Australia-based Capa Centre for Aviation. This resulted in budget carriers and foreign players taking a larger piece of the pie, according to BangkokPost.
The government-run airline plans to launch services to Washington, D.C. from New Delhi, and in addition to adding service to Africa, plans to connect to Scandinavian countries, BusinessStandard reported.
Air India already operates out of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Newark with plans to expand further in the U.S.
In the last four months alone, Air India added two international destinations — San Francisco and Vienna.
In Europe, the airline flies to seven cities including London, Paris, Milan, Vienna and Franfurt.
“In the next couple of years, we will be expanding our international network in a big way. We have Madrid, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Stockholm which we are looking at as well,” said Air India Director Pankaj Srivastava.
The airline currently operates to 35 international destinations in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Far East, South East Asia and the Gulf.
The San Francisco flight, which was launched in December, will be increased to five times a day, Srivastava said.