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Winning market share on the UAE and Gulf sectors will be vital for Air India and Tata in the coming phase. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Air India has deployed more Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on its Dubai route to meet demand. The airline, which was acquired by the conglomerate Tata Group in January, is operating 69 weekly flights to Dubai and out of this 35 are Dreamliners, said P. P. Singh, regional Manager at Air India.

This deployment of 787s might be seen as a move by Air India to increase its market share in the highly-lucrative Gulf market by offering upgraded services and newer aircraft. Airplanes like the Dreamliner offer more legroom and are generally more comfortable than the likes of Airbus A320. Developed for long-haul flights, the Dreamliner also has a better Business class section. “We are operating the Dreamliners from three destinations: Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi,” said Singh. “Dubai is the only destination in the Gulf that we operate the Dreamliner from.”

Air India was operating only 39 flights to Dubai prior to the resumption of normal international flights from India on March 27. Flights are ‘fully-booked’ for the Eid period, said Singh, adding that ticket prices to India will come down to Dh300-Dh400 in August – a one-way ticket currently costs more than Dh1,000.

Singh confirmed that Air India’s flights have now returned to Dubai International (DXB), following a 45-day refurbishment work. The airline operated from Dubai’s Al Maktoum airport during that period, along with flydubai and several other carriers.

Expansion plans

Last month, Bloomberg reported that Air India is considering buying as many as 300 narrow-body jets in what could be one of the largest commercial aviation deals in history. Sources said that the airline may order the A320neo family or Boeing Co’s 737 MAX models or a mix of both. “The fact that AI needs new aircraft -- be it a narrow-body aircraft or a widebody like the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787-10 -- is widely acknowledged although the Tatas are yet to officially comment on whether they are looking to place an order or not,” said Aswhini Phadnis, an aviation analyst.

“The arrival of a new aircraft type will allow a product upgrade as the new aircraft can be fitted with inflight entertainment, wi-fi and a lie-flat Business class, which is something airlines like flydubai are offering on their MAX planes.”