Dubai: India’s flag carrier Air India added more flights to and from Dubai on the Delhi and Mumbai routes. This is part of a broader network alignment between Air India and Air India Express, even as the former moves to consolidate all of its subsidiary airlines into its operations.
This summer, Air India will operate up to 10 daily flights between Delhi and Dubai, including a new flight that starts on April 29, an airline spokesperson told ‘Gulf News’. Between Mumbai and Dubai, the carrier will operate up to 6 daily flights. For most of the week, this means eight flights each day to Dubai from the two Indian cities.
Air India has also deployed its twin-aisle Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft (featuring 18 fully-flat beds in Business and 238 Economy Class seats) on the majority of daily flights to Dubai from Delhi and Mumbai. The remaining are operated by Airbus A320/321 aircraft.
The new flight timings to and from Dubai are spread throughout the day, allowing customers to select from morning, afternoon, and evening departures, said the airline.
The announcement from the Tata-owned airline comes a month after the carrier announced a major overhaul of how its main sectors would be serviced on the Dubai-India routes.
On March 22, the airline had said Air India’s budget carrier Air India Express would predominantly serve Tier-2 cities such as Goa, Indore, Kozhikode, etc., while Air India would focus on bolstering operations to Indian metros Mumbai and Delhi while slowing down its operations to smaller airports and overlapping routes.
“This optimisation of Air India’s flight schedule for Dubai is part of the ongoing network alignment between Air India and Air India Express,” said the spokesperson. This would achieve synergy by ‘densifying presence on the more commercially viable routes and reducing frequencies on overlapping routes’.
What does this mean for airfares?
UAE-India airfares witnessed a sudden and surprising drop during the Eid Al Fitr holidays as new flights by Air India Express and Go Air created timely capacities on this route. Current Economy class return fares average at Dh695-Dh1,102 (for travel from May 11-18), depending on the sector. Fares shoot up after June 16, after which they rise to Dh1,235-Dh2,612 during the peak summer holiday season.
Airfares to the hyper-busy South India sector, usually higher than the rest of the country due to VFR (visit friends and family) demand, are currently averaging at Dh1,285 (Dubai to Kochi) if you travel between May 11-18 compared to Dh2,085 a month ago. However, for the summer months, the same sector fares rise to Dh2,215 (June 29- July 25) on an Air India flight.
As summer approaches, UAE-India travel demand is expected to rise significantly this year, travel agents have said.