Air India Express, the country's only low-cost international airline that is celebrating the completion of two years of operations, aims at ferrying a million passengers and earning revenues to the tune of Rs 10 billion ($242 million) in the current fiscal.
The airline began operations on April 29, 2005, with a Thiruvananthapuram-Abu Dhabi flight. It currently has 129 weekly flights from 10 Indian airports to 10 international airports.
And the major chunk of passengers are from Kerala with 84 flights from the state's three international airports.
"The total revenues in the first year of operations touched Rs 3.9 billion and in the last fiscal it was Rs 6.5 billion. In the current fiscal, we aim to cross the Rs 10 billion mark. In the first year of operations we made a modest pre-tax profit of Rs 15 million," V Thulasidas, chairperson and managing director of Air India said in Thiruvananthapuram late on Sunday.
Air India Express, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India, operates the Boeing 737-800 and has 13 aircraft, of which seven are leased and six owned by the airline. Four new aircraft would be purchased this fiscal and another eight would be bought in 2008, which would take the total number of aircraft to 25.
"This year, we plan to fly into more Indian cities and also increase the weekly flights from the present airports. We will also soon have daily flights from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai," Thulasidas said.
Air India Express currently flies to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Bahrain, Sharjah, Al-Ain, Muscat, Salalah, Singapore and Colombo.
Thulasidas brushed aside reports of complaints from passengers of the budget airline.
"If that was the case, how do you think we have been able to carry half a million passengers in the last fiscal and our market share is huge in the sectors where we operate," he said.
He added that Air India Express and Alliance Airlines, a subsidiary of Indian, would come together after the merger between Air India and Indian Airlines.