Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Air India to add US nonstops post Nov 8 when Uncle Sam reopens for fully vaccinated travellers

New Delhi: This could be the last expansion of services by state-owned Air India before it transits to the Tata Group and the big bang expansion then. The Maharaja will be adding its highly popular US nonstops from next month as Uncle Sam reopens for fully vaccinated foreign travellers stating November 8.

It currently has 23 weekly flights to America. "We are adding three more weekly flights, between Mumbai and Newark, from second week of November. We are awaiting normal flight operation clearance from US airports. So AI will have 26 weekly flights, a number that could have been much higher if we had more Boeing 777s available and had so many of them not been down with maintenance issues," said officials, adding that out of 16 B777s, nine are available for operations at the moment.

A severe paucity of funds has seen several AI planes grounded due to spare issues. Getting the existing fleet, or newly leased planes, up in the air to mount more flights will be crucial for the Tatas to cash in on the reopening of travel. An airline insider said AI is awaiting "achche din" with the Tatas taking over. "Hopefully with Tatas getting in board, our days of slow/no/bad decision making will be over. As a PSU decision making is much slower due to clearances required. Private airline owners have in pre-pandemic times been known to order planes on SMS during board meetings," said an insider.

26/10/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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