National carrier Air India will soon make Delhi its primary hub — parking most of its aircraft here and launching more originating flights.
Already, more Air India flights originate in Delhi (486 per week) than in Mumbai (441). The carrier will also set up an Integrated Operations Control Centre (IOCC) in Delhi for monitoring all its flight operations across the country.
“All operational decisions concerning Air India will be taken in Delhi once the IOCC is operational, which would be before the Commonwealth Games in October,” an Air India official said.
These developments come in the wake of Delhi overtaking Mumbai as the country’s busiest airport in 2009, with an increase of over two million passengers.
“We will go where the market grows,” the official said commenting on the change in the company’s strategy.
“With the setting up of the IOCC, Delhi would become the primary hub while Mumbai would be the secondary hub for all our operations. Network planning, scheduling and control of flight operations and crew management would be done from here. At present, all operational decisions concerning international operations are handled from Mumbai while for domestic operations the hub is Delhi,” he said.
“We are witnessing tremendous growth in Delhi. Till last year, Delhi and Mumbai were almost neck-and-neck as far as sales in domestic market were concerned but now the differential is around 4-5 per cent in favour of Delhi,” the official said.
Air India’s summer schedule, which will be released soon, shows clearly the company’s changing strategy to cope with the rising demand. It will launch more flights from Delhi to Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Patna. Two new daily flights to Mumbai, too, will be launched.
The total passenger traffic at the Delhi airport in 2008 was 23.2 million as compared to Mumbai’s 24.3 million. In 2009, Delhi pipped Mumbai to first spot for the first time ever by handling 25.3 million passengers against Mumbai’s 24.8 million. Delhi also witnessed a 3 per cent increase in aircraft movement during the same period.