Air India Express

Posted By: Vanshika Pathak Posted On: Sep 18, 2023
The Tatas acquired full ownership of both Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express in January 2022.

New Delhi: To achieve seamless integration, Air India Express and AirAsia India on Monday announced the commencement of interline bookings.

As a result of this, passengers will now be able book a single itinerary across both airlines on connecting flights, including a single PNR on the common website and other online travel platforms.

For instance, with the interline arrangement, passengers can book a Lucknow- Delhi-Sharjah itinerary under a single PNR and receive their boarding passes for both Lucknow to Delhi and Delhi to Sharjah, at the beginning of their journey in Lucknow itself.

With a combined fleet of 54 aircraft, both airlines together connect 44 destinations, operating over 250 routes across India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The airlines have already integrated ancillary add-on services and sub-brands, such as Gourmair in-flight dining, Xpress Prime seating, and Xpress Ahead priority services.

"Our ongoing efforts towards integrating Air India Express and AirAsia India, even as we proceed with the full merger, is now bearing fruit, with a strong, integrated network emerging. The network footprint stretches across India, Gulf & the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and will be further strengthened with our forthcoming fleet expansion," said Aloke Singh, managing director, Air India Express and AirAsia India.

Following the recent launch of Air India's new logo and livery, the Tata group is also set to introduce a fresh brand identity for Air India Express by October, Mint had reported earlier.

As part of the government‘s strategic divestment programme, the Tatas acquired full ownership of both Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express in January 2022.

In November 2022, the Tata group announced the merger of AirAsia India and Air India Express. As a part of the transaction, AirAsia Bhd divested its 16.67% stake in the airline, allowing the Tatas to buy it for ₹155.65 crore.

AirAsia India flies over 50 direct and over 100 connecting routes across 19 destinations in India including Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam, Imphal, Guwahati, Goa, Jaipur, Lucknow, Surat, Bagdogra, Ranchi, and Srinagar.

Air India Express operates to 14 international destinations including Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Bahrain, Dammam, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat, Salalah, Sharjah, Singapore, Ras-Al-Khaimah, Riyadh, & Jeddah, from Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangalore, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Mumbai, Amritsar, Lucknow, Jaipur, Varanasi, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Madurai, Vijayawada, Bengaluru, Kannur, Surat, and Hyderabad.

Source: Live Mint
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New Air India by 2025-end

Posted By: Anita Mamgai Posted On: Sep 26, 2023
Air India CEO Campbell Wilson. (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

Air India plans to establish a low-cost stronghold in local routes, alongside the broader goal of revitalizing the Tata group-owned airline by refurbishing its entire fleet by the end of 2025, chief executive officer (CEO) Campbell Wilson said.

“We're very confident that we're in the right place for full service being long-haul, medium-haul international. Domestically, it's quite clear that the market is most appropriate for low-cost, which is why we have Air India Express that will form the bulk of our domestic flights as well as some short-haul international," Wilson said in an interview on Monday. “But the positioning of Air India Express is very definitely going to be low-cost. We won't be putting business-class seats into the aircraft," he added.

The Tata group acquired Air India and its low-fare unit Air India Express in January 2022 under a government-led strategic divestment programme. Later that year, the Tata group announced a merger between Air India and Vistara, and between Air India Express and AirAsia India. The two mergers are currently underway.

“There will be a full-service presence on metro-to-metro and on routes that we believe have significant international connectivity. But the market is clearly most conducive to low-cost domestically. So, Air India Express will be the majority of our domestic operations," Wilson added.

To that end, the airline plans to induct most of the 400 narrow-body aircraft from its existing orders to the Air India Express brand while refurbishing its older fleet of more than 100 aircraft. The airline will invest $400 million to retrofit 40 wide-body Boeing B777 and B787-8 aircraft by 2025.

“We've restored the in-flight entertainment system availability in business class and first class to more than 99%. But the sad fact is that the seats and the in-flight entertainment were about as old as the iPhone. So, we're doing the best we can in keeping things functional until such time that we can do the retrofit of the aircraft, which starts next year by July-August," Wilson said.

While Air India placed an order for 470 aircraft, including 70 wide-body aircraft, in February, it also plans to take 36 aircraft on lease, out of which 21 narrow-body planes are set to join the airline's fleet by May. In addition, the airline expects to induct six leased Boeing 777s and six Airbus A350s from its 470-aircraft order by March 2024. These aircraft will mainly serve Europe and North America.

In the case of Vistara and Air India, the merger has recently received a nod from the Competition Commission of India and is expected to be completed by the end of March.

“We're in no hurry to make a change (to Vistara brand). We'll continue working on elevating Air India to the point where it is as good or better than Vistara. And then we can take a call based on what the public thinks about the respective airlines and how we can bring them together," Wilson said.

The company will further start working on planning the network more closely between Vistara and Air India once the merger process receives approvals from “a few foreign jurisdictions."

“For example, rather than fly completely in parallel to Frankfurt or London, we can space the service out so that the customer has a better spread of schedules and therefore more choice. So, it will be operated as two separate businesses, but in a complementary rather than competitive sense," he added.

The focus on improving the product for the international segment comes amid efforts by the government to expand opportunities for Indian airlines in serving travel to and from India. The share of Indian airlines in overseas traffic to and from India has increased to 44% in FY23 from 40% in FY19, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

“The diaspora remains very large, growing and increasingly wealthy. You've got India as a key node in the global supply chain. As we build the connectivity, as the airport infrastructure improves to facilitate this, it will support the development of India and Air India as a much stronger hub carrier," he said.

The airline, with its current primary hub in Delhi, plans to bolster its secondary hub in Mumbai and increase focus on southern India.

On the emerging duopoly in the Indian aviation market, Wilson said that the consolidation of a fragmented, under-capitalized, semi-private, semi-government environment is a step that many countries have undertaken to create a more stable, more profitable environment that allows the maturation and ultimately profitable expansion of the industry.

“We've seen a procession of airlines enter and then collapse in the Indian market. And that's burnt a lot of travellers, a lot of travel agents, a lot of companies, and a lot of employees. And it's clearly not a sign of a healthy ecosystem," he added.

Source: Live Mint
Related Posts: AIR INDIA,CAMPBELL WILSON,AIR INDIA EXPRESS,FLIGHTS,TATA GROUP,VISTARA,AIRASIA INDIA,IPHONE,AIRCRAFT,BOEING,AIRBUS,EUROPE,NORTH AMERICA,COMPETITION COMMISSION OF INDIA

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Mumbai airport August air traffic at 108% of pre-pandemic level

Posted By: Ramesh Sharma Posted On: Sep 19, 2023
At Mumbai International Airport, the average daily passenger count for August stood at 139,661. (File Photo: HT)

New Delhi: Domestic air traffic at the Mumbai International Airport last month stood at 108% of pre-pandemic level of August 2019.

The airport recorded passenger traffic of over 4.32 million, an increase of 32% year-on-year, while international air traffic soared 33% on year to more than 1.1 million passengers.

The airport witnessed a total of 20,711 domestic flights and 6,960 international air traffic movements last month.

Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai emerged as the top domestic destinations in August, while Dubai, London, and Abu Dhabi were the most preferred international destinations from the airport.

In August, the airport witnessed a 150% increase in air passenger traffic for Munich, followed by a 138% growth in air traffic for Hanoi and 110% rise for Istanbul traffic. Nairobi and Ho Chi Minh also witnessed a growth of 99% and 96% in passenger traffic respectively as compared to August 2022.

The average daily passenger count for the month stood at 139,661.

In the domestic sector, IndiGo led with 48% market share, followed by Air India with 18% and Vistara with 17%. In the international segment, IndiGo recorded 22% market share, followed by Air India with 14% and Vistara with 10%.

In the freight category, the airport saw air cargo tonnage growth of 6%, with a 3% rise in domestic cargo tonnage and an 8% rise in international cargo tonnage in August 2023.

Overall, the Indian aviation market has revival in domestic air travel since December 2022 when covid-related restrictions were eased. Domestic air traffic last month for the country stood at 12.4 million passengers, a rise of 5% when compared to pre-pandemic levels of August 2019.

Source: Live Mint
Related Posts: AVIATION,CIVIL AVIATION,AIR TRAFFIC,AIR TRAFFIC PASSENGERS,MUMBAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT,AIR TRAVEL,AIRPORTS

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NBFCs relying more on bank loans

Posted By: Tarun Kumar Posted On: Sep 19, 2023
Reserve Bank of India headquarters, in Mumbai. (PTI)

Mumbai: Domestic non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), especially those in the upper-layer category, are increasingly relying on bank borrowings as their primary source of funding, according to an analysis in Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s September bulletin.

RBI regulations classify the NBFCs into four layers based on the size, activity and perceived risks. The upper layer comprises prominent names like Tata Sons, LIC Housing Finance and Shriram Finance, according to a recent RBI notification.

NBFCs primarily finance their operations through a mix of market borrowing and bank loans, constituting around 75% of total borrowings. According to the analysis, the substantial reliance on banks makes them the largest net borrowers, thus intricately linking them to the broader financial system.

The article pertains to the sector's performance during the 2022-23 period, up to Q3.

Although there were 9,443 RBI-registered NBFCs as of 31 March, the analysis is based on a sample of 205 firms that regularly submitted returns for all quarters from December 2020 to December 2022. “During the assessment period, NBFCs' reliance on banks increased steadily due to (the) low interest environment and lag monetary policy transmission," the article said.

The banks' share in aggregate NBFC borrowings rose to 35.1% last December, against 29.7% in December 2020, the data cited showed.

While the article was written by RBI officials, it had the usual disclaimer that the views expressed are those of authors and do not reflect the views of the organization. “A deeper analysis highlights the banks' preference in lending to NBFCs in the upper layer."

Direct bank borrowings by the upper-layer NBFCs grew steadily in recent quarters, accounting for nearly half of the total borrowings at the end of December 2022. Those in the middle layer relied more on debentures, although their bank borrowings also grew in recent times. Besides, upper-layer NBFCs seem to be more successful in raising short-term debt through commercial papers (CP), it said.

According to the analysis, banks are also key subscribers of the debenture and commercial paper issuances by NBFCs. Therefore, the exposure to the NBFC sector is higher than the quantum indicated by direct lending, it said. “Banks' exposure to NBFC-UL (upper layer) in particular has been steadily rising, primarily due to a steep growth in their direct lending to these NBFCs in 2022-23 (up to December 2022). Bank subscription to debenture and CP issuances of NBFC-UL are also growing at a robust pace, and reflect banks' preference for instruments of bigger NBFCs, which in general have strong parentage and are under enhanced regulation."

The debenture issuances of NBFCs are also subscribed by other market participants such as mutual funds, insurers, retail investors and pension funds. “Going forward, NBFCs need to diversify their funding sources, to reduce excessive reliance on bank borrowings," the article said.

“They need to develop strong governance and risk management standards and be more vigilant about cybercrimes, as the growing digital lending space offers huge opportunities, but also presents novel challenges," it added.

A scale-based analysis of the credit allocation by the authors of the article found NBFCs in the upper layer provide a major chunk of their loans to retail borrowers, while those in the middle layer provided a large chunk to the industry. Government NBFCs that fall in the middle layer are large providers of credit to the infrastructure segment of industries, it said.

Source: Live Mint
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Cheaper Airfares Are Squeezing Airline Stocks

Posted By: Vishal Maurya Posted On: Sep 17, 2023
Cheaper Airfares Are Squeezing Airline Stocks

U.S. travelers are paying less to fly, and airline stocks are taking a hit.

Airlines that focus on domestic flights are being squeezed as Americans embrace travel to Europe over vacations closer to home. Airfares across the industry were down 13.3% in August from a year ago, marking the fifth straight month of declines, according to federal data that is weighted toward domestic flights. The weakening demand comes just as airlines are facing surging jet fuel prices and rising labor costs.

Doubts over whether carriers will be able to raise fares to offset mounting expenses have their stocks in retreat: The U.S. Global Jets exchange-traded fund, which tracks the industry, has gained 5.4% this year on a postpandemic bump but is down 19% from its recent high in July. American Airlines' stock is down 29% from that peak, while Southwest Airlines is down 24%.

The S&P 500 is up 1.5% over the same period.

“Bigger picture, this is an industry driven by pricing power," said Andrew Didora, senior airlines analyst at Bank of America. “There's the investor concern that pricing is not going to be there as fuel moves higher."

The pressures come after a tumultuous few years for the industry. Airline stocks plunged after the Covid-19 pandemic essentially shut down travel in 2020, forcing carriers to turn to government aid and borrow billions of dollars to get through the dry spell.

Then as health restrictions eased, people who had built up savings while stuck at home eagerly shelled out to travel again. The pent-up demand—along with labor shortages that limited capacity—drove airfares up by as much as 43% in 2022 from the previous year. Airlines reaped record revenues, and shares of major carriers have more than doubled from their 2020 lows, though heavier debt levels have kept shares well below prepandemic levels.

For now, people are still squeezing onto packed airplanes. An average of 2.4 million passengers went through U.S. airports each day over the recent Labor Day weekend, according to Transportation Security Administration data. That was higher than in 2019.

Where travelers are headed, however, has shifted.

Spirit Airlines, which operates mostly domestic flights, said last week it had to offer “steep discounting" for travel booked from the late summer to pre-Thanksgiving period, and trimmed its third-quarter revenue forecast. Southwest said earlier this month that overall demand was healthy, but that August bookings were on the low end of its expectations.

Investors also worry the postpandemic surge in leisure travel will peter out and that lucrative corporate travel will never fully return. Before the pandemic, business travelers accounted for about half of profits and 12% of traffic for U.S. airlines, according to a McKinsey analysis.

Meanwhile, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Alaska Air Group have all warned that costs for the third quarter would be higher than previously forecast.

Airlines are paying roughly 25% more for fuel than they were in July, according to Didora of Bank of America. Labor costs are also set to increase, with new contracts for American Airlines and Delta pilots promising pay raises over a four-year period of 46% and 34%, respectively.

Like other commodities, fuel prices are volatile and a drop could help reverse the recent selloff. Airlines could also try passing higher costs on to customers by raising fares.

But people might no longer be willing to spend as much on trips as their pandemic wanderlust subsides. “It's always difficult to tell how elastic demand will be," said Chris Raite, an industrials analyst at research firm Third Bridge Group.

Write to Charley Grant at charles.grant@wsj.com

Source: Live Mint
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Zooom Airlines revives air operator certificate

Posted By: Pawan George Posted On: Sep 15, 2023
Zoom Air was established as Zexus Air in April 2013 and the airline had taken delivery of its first aircraft, a Bombardier CRJ200. It had then commenced operations in February 2017. (File Photo: AP)

New Delhi: Zooom Airlines, earlier called Zoom Air, has revived air operator certificate from the Indian civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation to commence flight operations in India, the airline said on Friday.

"With our AOC in hand, we look forward to providing passengers with a top-notch travel experience that combines convenience, efficiency, and comfort," Zooom Airlines chief executive officer Atul Gambhir said in a statement.

Zoom Air was established as Zexus Air in April 2013 and the airline had taken delivery of its first aircraft, a Bombardier CRJ200. It had then commenced operations in February 2017. However, the airline was unable to attract substantial air passenger traffic. Its air operator certificate was also suspended in July 2018 for over a year by the DGCA following safety concerns.

With a new name, the airline aims to create a fresh brand recall for the airline with an improved experience for the flyers, industry experts said.

The Gurugram-based company will use its Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft for the flight operations.

“Our Crj 200 aircraft will provide domestic travellers with unprecedented speed on each route. We wish to cater to the growing number of domestic travellers who take frequent flights and expect comfortable travel with reliable speed," Gambhir added.

The airline has plans to target a “cost-effective" and “convenient" solution for regional travel needs of flyers in a growing Indian aviation market. The domestic air traffic in the month of August stood at 12.4 million passengers in India, 5% more than the pre-pandemic level of 11.8 million passengers in Aug 2019.

“We are confident in our ability to carve out a niche by offering a unique and innovative travel experience," Gambhir said.

Currently, the Indian aviation market has two active regional carriers namely Fly Big and Star Air with a share of 0.2% and 0.3% respectively in the domestic civil aviation market.

Source: Live Mint
Related Posts: ZOOOM AIRLINES,ZOOM AIR,DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF CIVIL AVIATION,ATUL GAMBHIR,AVIATION

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Wuhan-London Direct Flight Resumes Operations after Three Years

Posted By: Ajay Rawat Posted On: Aug 27, 2023

A couple of days back, the first flight from the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei, left for London after almost 3 years. The direct flights from Wuhan to Europe were suspended to stop COVID-19 from spreading to other parts of the world. On Friday morning, an Airbus A350, carrying 270 passengers, took off for London's Heathrow airport from Wuhan.

The China Southern Airlines will operate this flight every Friday, connecting Wuhan to London. The timings of the flight have also been confirmed. The flight will leave the Wuhan airport at 2:15 AM and reach London's Heathrow Airport at 7:10 AM local time. The return flight will take off at 11:05 AM local time from Heathrow Airport and arrive in Wuhan at 5:00 AM the next day.

Li Shuwen, the Vice Sales Manager of China Southern Airlines Hubei Branch, said that the first flight that flew for London saw the load factor of the passengers reaching 88 percent, whereas the inbound flight exceeded it hitting the 90 percent mark. He also added that he was very optimistic about the revenue from this route.

Li also said that the flights, scheduled in November, were almost 80 percent booked with just 20 percent capacity left, highlighting the demand for the seats on the route. He also said that China Southern Airlines has plans to add another weekly flight on the same route, adding, though, it will take some time and people will have to wait until November.

The China Southern Airlines flight started operating on May 30, 2018, connecting Wuhan to London but it had to be grounded in 2020 after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan.

The Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, other than this, has resumed nine more routes for better connectivity between countries. Among them are routes connecting China with Dubai, Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo and Bangkok.

Source: News18
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