Air India shelves plans for a European hub

New Delhi: Mounting losses and a slump in air travel has compelled flag carrier Air India to defer plans for setting up a hub in Europe. With a cost-cutting programme already in play that includes curtailment of flights, plans for an European hub have apparently been put on the back-burner.

Reportedly, the national carrier had been considering two European airports, Munich and Frankfurt, as a potential hub.

A Brussels-style hub, as with Jet Airways, made sense when the flag carrier was contemplating an expansion of global services, riding as it was a wave of unbridled global and domestic growth in the aviation sector and also fresh aircraft deliveries, which were due to give its ageing fleet a new look and range, as well as an increase in numbers.

Senior officials are now being quoted as saying that with addition of flights already ruled out as part of the cost-cutting programme, there is no compulsion to settle on a European hub in a hurry.

Airline officials also said that efforts were on to strengthen the domestic segment of the international low cost service, AI Express rather than initiate a new domestic LCC service.