Friday, August 21, 2020

Air India Express: only carrier on 38% of international routes; competition growing

Air India Express has a clear role to play within the Air India Group. It focuses on thinner international services from India, typically involving tier two cities.

90% of Express’ seats are international, amounting to more than 5.5 million last year, OAG Schedule data shows.  This is up from 74%, and 3.6 million, in 2010.

Air India Express is almost entirely about the Middle East, with almost all of its international capacity deployed there.

It also revolves around South India, with just under nine in ten of its international capacity involving 10 cities in this region, led by Kozhikode (Calicut).

The reason is simple: most Indians in the Middle East come from the south.

52% of Express’ international seats are to/from the tropical state of Kerala alone, data shows, with Kannur’s new airport joining Express’ network in December 2018.
The carrier’s international network focuses on seven countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the UAE.

Bangladesh (Dhaka) was cut in 2017, Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) in 2017, Sri Lanka (Colombo) in 2014, and Thailand (Bangkok) in 2010.

The UAE alone accounted for 3.4 million of its 5.5 million international seats last year across five airports: Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, and Ras Al Khaimah.

Dubai had more than one-quarter of the LCC’s total, making the carrier’s #1 international destination followed by Sharjah.
Looking at the seven countries served by Air India Express and adding in Air India’s capacity to them too, as shown below, the low-cost subsidiary had a 59% share of Group seats last year.

This was its highest-ever figure. It was up from 46% in 2015 as Air India added barely more than 250,000 seats to these countries between 2015-2019 against over 2.5 million for its smaller unit.

But that’s not entirely fair.

Since 2010, Air India’s own capacity to the Middle East and Singapore has grown by a respectable 60% against Express’ 83%. On a CAGR basis, they grew by 4.8% vs. 6.3% respectively.

All seven countries are served by Air India, with the airline mainly focusing on tier 1 cities to them.

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