Wednesday, October 4, 2023

How Is Air India Going Ahead With Its Mega Expansion?

By Staff Correspondent

Air India’s recent mega-deal for 470 narrow and widebody Airbus and Boeing aircraft is set to change the aviation market in India. The deal would expand if Air India acquires another 370 aircraft, taking the size of the order to a whopping 840 aircraft.

Following the announcement of this massive order, Campbell Wilson, the CEO of Air India, spoke in a recent interview about what this deal means for the carrier, its future market strategy, marketing tie-ups, and its role in developing the country into a world-class aviation hub.

Wilson stated that the carrier would offer a highly synergised operation following integration and ramp up its international and domestic route network. The airline will also develop three main hubs, including one in South India, and create training facilities for pilots, cabin crew, and ground specialists. Additionally, it will build maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capabilities to service the carrier’s future scale of operations.

Campbell, a New Zealand national, joined Air India in June last year and has registered a 27% increase in the number of operating aircraft. The carrier has added new destinations to its route network, reduced call centre handling time, processed significant outstanding refunds, undertaken large-scale recruitments, and signed lease agreements for 36 new aircraft.

The Air India CEO revealed that Air India is hiring around 100 pilots and 500 cabin crew per month and hiring people for ground staff. However, he added that the carrier has paused hiring while merging AirAsia and Air India Express and planning for the merger of Vistara into Air India. Wilson also stated that the carrier is focusing on hiring in technology-driven areas such as data analytics.

Furthermore, Air India aims to operate as one network, distribution, and sales platform. Wilson believes the two airline groups, Air India and Air India Express, should work in synergy. The low-cost airline will serve the domestic market while supporting the international network feed from overseas on the full-service brand travelling domestically on the low-cost brand and vice versa.

Wilson acknowledged the challenges Air India has faced over the years and stated that he has been “pleasantly surprised” by how aligned the Air India culture has become behind what they are trying to do. He added that having people coming in from outside the airline and mixing with the experience and willingness of those already there is almost a magical combination.

Air India’s CEO highlighted that he aims to recognise and reward the hard work of those who have carried the airline through with new aspirations and investment in systems, people, and aircraft, so they can now see it achieving the heights they always wished for it.

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