Air India to develop Delhi as alternative hub to Mumbai

New Delhi: Faced with increasing operational congestion at Mumbai, its existing hub, struggling national carrier Air India is now looking to develop New Delhi as an additional network hub.  Airline officials say the move would allow the carrier to provide international passengers direct connectivity on its domestic network.

The airline operates international services to London, Frankfurt, New York, Tokyo and Singapore among others.

It is also being given to understand that the carrier is now evaluating routing of operations through its international hub at Frankfurt. According to airline officials, Frankfurt airport is turning out to be very expensive and operationally the airline is looking to focus on point-to-point traffic.

Pointing out that the airline had achieved higher load factors over the last quarter, officials also that the carrier would seek to defer delivery of three Boeing 777-300 ER (extended range) aircraft as part of its fleet rationalisation plan.

The airline has also been asked by the minister, Praful Patel, to improve capacity utilisation. The airline has to let the minister know why the airline's average fleet utilisation is at 8.5 hours per aircraft even as private carriers managed ratios of 12 hours a day.

Clearing of dues is another urgent issue as the carrier has accumulated debts of Rs2,636 crore with oil companies, and other vendors. Airline CMD Arvind Jadhav has indicated that the carrier would clear these in short order.