Praful Patel: Air India must expand network, fleet and cargo business

New Delhi: Civil aviation minister Praful Patel has asked Air India to widen its network and also go in for a fleet expansion exercise at a quick pace. At a review meeting of the recently merged airlines, Patel also asked the company to strengthen its cargo business. 

Some of the major issues taken up for consideration at the meeting included the airline''s plan to induct over 60 of previously ordered aircraft and enhancing its connectivity. Air India now has a fleet of nearly 125 aircraft, and is also mulling over plans to order a large number of planes for delivery after 2011.

Patel has asked the merged Air India to draw up fresh plans within the next fortnight regarding its global routes, creating hubs in Europe and issues relating to the human resources.

"It was a review of the overall process of merger covering all aspects of the amalgamation and what progress has been made on each front," Patel told news agencies after the meeting, which was attended by top officials of the ministry and Air India, including AI chairman and managing director, V Thulasidas.

Before their merger, Air India had placed orders for 68 Boeing aircraft while Indian had ordered 43 Airbus aircraft.