Air India to look at Dublin as European hub option

New Delhi: India and Ireland are mulling expansion of air services to each other's countries through their respective flag carriers -Air India and Aer Lingus, respectively, according to sources in the Indian civil aviation ministry. The move comes even as Air India officials are set to visit Dublin to see if its airport fits the bill as their European hub in place of Frankfurt.

Air India is looking at potential sites around Europe to set up hub operations for its one-stop services between India and the US. The struggling carrier is looking for cheaper alternatives to Frankfurt.

According to civil aviation ministry officials, Arvind Jadhav, chairman and managing director AI accompanied by senior ministry officials will inspect the Dublin airport sometime this fortnight.

The other airports in the running as potential alternatives to Frankfurt are Copenhagen, Denmark and Vienna, Austria.

In the case of Dublin it offers a unique advantage as the only European airport where passengers can clear immigration for the US, and in the process avoid long queues at congested airports such as New York's JFK International.

Though offering this unique advantage market analysts suggest that a move to airports in Europe that offer traffic on their own, such as Manchester with a large immigrant population, might be a better bet.

For that matter Frankfurt, inspite of its high costs, attracts a lot of business class traffic.  They point out that air traffic between India and Ireland is virtually non-existent.