Emerging from a ten-day pilots' strike, Air India now plans to rejig its domestic operations by introducing at least two wide-body aircraft on some high density domestic routes and connecting them to foreign destinations to enhance its operational revenues.
The airline is considering continuing the operations of two twin-aisled Airbus A-330s on Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Bangalore-Chennai sectors and connect them further to fly to destinations in the Gulf or Southeast Asia, Air India sources said.
"We want to integrate Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur with our domestic network," they said, adding that the A-330s would operate only as a 'breakfast' or 'dinner' flight.
Such operations may be finalised and implemented as early as in two weeks, they said.
The use of these wide-body planes on the domestic sector was experimented during the ten-day strike by the pilots which the airline now plans to continue.
"We will start offering 35,000 seats each day by using a combination of wide-body and narrow-body aircraft on busy routes", the sources said.
The use of wide-body aircraft would also resolve problems of slot constraints at busy airports like Mumbai.
As part of its route rationalisation, Air India plans to gradually do away with 'spoke' operations and convert such routes to connect to metros.
For example, the airline, which flies Delhi-Kanpur-Delhi or Delhi-Patna-Ranchi-Delhi, could now change these routes to Delhi-Kanpur-Kolkata or Delhi-Patna-Kolkata or Delhi-Ranchi-Kolkata.
"Ten to 15 more cities will be covered under this plan", the sources said.
To questions on the low fares being offered by Air India on advance bookings, they said the effort was to earn maximum revenues from each flight.
While a single flight earns an average of Rs two lakh, if more seats are available for lower fares, "our revenues can go up to even Rs three lakh per trip", the sources said, adding the average cost of a trip of about Rs 1.75 lakh would remain the same.
The sources said these plans were already in place and would be implemented in the shortest possible time, even in the next two weeks.
This would also meet one of the decisions arrived at in the talks between the pilots and the Civil Aviation Ministry that ended the ten-day strike Friday night.
Under the agreement, the Air India management was directed to "take immediate measures to enhance daily utilisation of the aircraft and working hours" of pilots so that they can enhance their flying allowances.