Air India Plans To Start Flights To Los Angeles, Boston
Tata Group-owned Air India is planning to operate flights to more US cities, including Los Angeles, and is assessing various metrics, according to sources.
Currently, the airline operates non-stop flights to five American cities -- Washington, DC, New York, New Jersey, Chicago and San Francisco.
Los Angeles and Boston are among the cities being assessed as potential new destinations for long-haul flights from India, the sources told Press Trust of India.
At present, Air India has a code share partnership with United Airlines.
"We are planning to expand (our base) in the US and various cities are being assessed for potential new destinations. So, Boston is one of them, and Los Angeles too is among the cities that are being assessed," one of the sources said.
"We are weighing other metrics as well," the source added.
Starting a new destination entails examining a lot of factors, including fleet size, pilot strength and traffic volume on the route, according to aviation industry experts.
The source said current pilot strength, training of cabin crew and ground staff to be deployed at an airport at the new destination are among the factors that need to be considered.
A large number of Indian nationals or people of Indian-origin are living or working in the US, including students in various American universities. The US is also a tourism destination for many Indians.
Air India, which was taken over by the Tata Group in January last year, is on the revival path, according to the airline.
In one of the largest aircraft orders by an airline, Air India in February this year announced it will buy 470 narrow-body and wide-body planes from Airbus and Boeing, with the total deal value estimated to be worth USD 80 billion.
Air India will buy 250 aircraft, including 40 wide-body A350 planes, from European aviation major Airbus, and 220 planes from US aircraft maker Boeing under separate deals.
The Airbus firm order comprises 210 A320/321 Neo/XLR and 40 A350-900/1000. The Boeing firm order comprises 190 737-Max, 20 787s and 10 777s.
Air India will require more than 6,500 pilots to operate 470 aircraft that are to be supplied by Airbus and Boeing in the coming years, industry sources said in February.
Recently, a senior Air India official said the privatisation of Air India has "enabled Indian aviation" to tap a very, very large segment of the market that had hitherto "remained untapped".
"Privatisation has always been a difficult subject in India, more so when it comes to an asset like Air India, national carrier, and a lot of feelings are attached to it," he said.
"... everybody wants Air India to succeed and survive as a national carrier. Secondly, and most importantly it happened because it was Tata, and the kind of trust that the name evokes, made things easier," the official said.
Further, the official said that if there is trust in the brand or even as an individual, "you can go a long way, people will go out of their way to support you, do business with you, work with you".
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