Air India to focus on regional routes to regain market share

New Delhi: In a bid to regain lost market share badly struggling state-owned carrier, Air India, said Monday it would looking forward to developing new regional routes, including tier-two and tier-three cities.

Senior officials said they would focus on these attractive regional routes in the coming days and also look at providing cheapest possible fares on these routes. These officials said Air India expects the regional sector to be the growth driver for the Indian aviation industry with more and more tier-two and tier-three cities gaining connectivity with major metros.

Officials said increasing demand, coupled with negligible or no competition was an opportunity.

Officials were speaking on the eve of the launch of the AI's new Delhi-Kanpur-Kolkata flight. It expects 85 per cent load factor on this route.

The Kanpur flight will be inaugurated by civil aviation minister Vaylar Ravi on Tuesday. The route will be operated by a CRJ (Canadian Regional Jet) with a 70 passenger capacity.

The carrier is also slashing fares on major metro routes which have stopovers at tier-two cities like Kanpur. While the average fare for a Delhi-Kolkata direct flight is Rs6,000, AI will offer Rs4,000 on the Delhi-Kanpur-Kolkata route.

AI will also have an added advantage of lower operating costs by operating small aircraft like the CRJ and the ATR turbo-prop. Lower landing charges due to government subsidies for operating such aircraft will aid in making these operations competitive.