Whilst home air visitors in India exhibits indicators of restoration, it is nonetheless not fairly the identical as pre-COVID ranges. Due to this fact, it wasn’t a lot of a shock when India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate Common of Civil Aviation (DGCA), introduced a slight dip in weekly flights this winter in comparison with 2019. Among the many carriers that noticed a discount within the schedule was Air India. However is COVID the one motive for it? Let’s have a look.

Winter schedule

When the DGCA accepted this 12 months’s winter schedule, it introduced a 4.4% drop in weekly flights in comparison with the pre-COVID 12 months of 2019. Even because the COVID scenario improves within the nation, the pandemic’s lingering results have slowed a as soon as rapidly-growing Indian aviation market.


The schedule will start on October thirty first and final till March twenty sixth subsequent 12 months. The DGCA has accepted 22,287 weekly home flights this winter in comparison with 23,307 flights in 2019. Aside from Vistara and AirAsia India, all different national-level carriers introduced a drop of their winter schedule. Air India, too, decreased its home providers by nearly 9%.

Whereas COVID-19 is the prime perpetrator for flight discount, Air India’s troubles predate the pandemic. It is laborious to place the finger on only one difficulty with the provider as a number of components appear to have converged, leading to its present-day woes.

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Fleet points

Air India has a number of unflyable airplanes just because it does not have the funds to restore them. Most of the provider’s A320s have not seen any motion for just a few years due to the dearth of recent engines.

Whereas the federal government is not going to bear the prices of constructing the grounded planes airworthy once more, it has promised the provider’s soon-to-be new homeowners, the TATAs, that no extra plane will likely be grounded. The Instances of India quotes sources as saying,

“They’ve been assured 58 Airbus A320 household planes, 14 Boeing 777 and 22 B787 Dreamliners of AI and 24 B737 of AI Categorical in airworthy situation (whole 118). The federal government is not going to spend on making AI’s grounded planes airworthy however extra groundings gained’t occur.”

The TATAs have been monitoring Air India’s fleet scenario and would doubtless must foot payments of greater than $1 billion to restore and improve its worn-out fleet. Talking to Reuters, a veteran aviation trade government commented,

“If you do not have newer airplanes or airplanes which are dependable, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re going to have an issue.”

Unprofitable routes

Final 12 months, the then Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri revealed in Parliament that of all of the routes Air India operated between April 2019 and March 2020, solely 9 home and 12 worldwide met the entire price of operations.

With cheaper and extra environment friendly alternate options on many home routes, passengers typically go for different airways, leaving Air India flights in losses. Air India’s greatest aggressive benefit has been its worldwide routes, particularly continuous connections to the US and Europe. With the pandemic decimating long-haul flights and India nonetheless not absolutely opened to worldwide journey, the provider misplaced its solely energy.

Wanting on the winter schedule, evidently Air India has tried to rationalize its networks for the subsequent few months by decreasing operations on loss-making home routes.

With the provider’s handover to the TATAs simply months away, hopefully, it is going to steadily return to being a worthwhile enterprise.


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