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Why airlines are using big planes on short routes

Indian carriers are flying the big birds on domestic routes giving passengers a never-before experience of travelling in wide-body jets on short-haul regional sectors.

business Updated: Mar 15, 2016 11:31 IST
Tushar Srivastava
Air India is flying wide-body jets on domestic routes giving passengers a never-before travel experience.
Air India is flying wide-body jets on domestic routes giving passengers a never-before travel experience.(HT Archive)

Indian carriers are flying the big birds on domestic routes giving passengers a never-before experience of travelling in wide-body jets on short-haul regional sectors.

Jet Airways has introduced the wide-body Airbus A330 on the country’s busiest domestic route – between Delhi and Mumbai while Air India (AI) is considering a proposal to deploy two of its brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners for exclusive domestic use.

Indian carriers mostly operate narrow-body jets like A320 and B737 on domestic routes which have a seating capacity of around 168-180. Wide-body jets are mostly used for long-haul flights to destinations like London.

The A330 deployed by Jet on Delhi-Mumbai can seat around 90 more passengers than the B737 that it usually flies on domestic routes.

“We fly the A330 at the peak time of 5 pm and are looking at opportunities to fly more wide-body jets,” said a Jet official.

“It has been a big success. Passengers are loving it as they can fly on a wide-body aircraft from Delhi to Mumbai. The big advantage of flying a wide-body aircraft is that Mumbai and Delhi are slot constrained airports. If for the limited slots you are able to carry more passengers you are obviously getting a significant advantage out of it,” said Amit Agarwal, acting CEO of Jet Airways.

AI already uses the 256-seater Dreamliner for add-on flights. For example the Dreamliner operating in the London-Delhi is extended to domestic destinations like Kolkata. “Besides Kolkata, the 787s are also deployed for add-on flights to Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai,” said an AI official.

AI, which has received 21 of the 27 Dreamliners it had ordered in 2005, says the passenger response to its Dreamliners has been stupendous.

“On an average, flights are 85% full. More importantly, the business class is mostly sold out and hence the yields are higher,” said an official.

“Deploying wide-body jets can prove to be a game changer and money-spinner for airlines,” said aviation expert Rajji Rai.