Air India Express To Expand Operations In Delhi-NCR – India Report

Skift Take

Air India Express has become the first airline to operate from two airports in the national capital region. The airline is aiming to use the Hindon airport to connect with the smaller cities in western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Haryana. It is not yet known if the airport will serve as another hub – but would it make sense if it were to become one?

Budget airline Air India Express has announced that it will be commencing operations from the Hindon airport in the national capital region (NCR), in addition to its ongoing operations from the Delhi airport. With this, it has become the first airline to operate from two airports in the NCR. 

Starting August 1, 2024, the airline will operate 28 weekly direct flights to Bengaluru, Goa, and Kolkata. The move aims to enhance connectivity from cities in western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Haryana. 

Air India Express managing director Aloke Singh said, “Our network expansion is focused on enhancing connectivity across the rapidly growing domestic and short-haul international market, particularly the new and underserved routes. The maturity and size of major metropolitan areas in India can support secondary airports.”

The Hindon airport was meant to serve the smaller towns bordering Delhi in Uttar Pradesh as part of the government’s regional connectivity scheme. However, only two airlines – FlyBig and Star Air – currently operate from there, with Air India Express set to be the third airline. 

A New Hub? Air India Express’ primary hub is located in Kochi, while it has secondary hubs in nine cities, including Delhi. The airline operates 280 weekly flights from Delhi, and flights from Hindon are meant to complement Air India Express’ Delhi operations. 

It is not yet clear if Hindon will be another hub for the airline, as it currently only plans to operate direct flights to three destinations from the airport. 

However, it is possible for the airport to serve as a hub for the budget airline’s regional operations, especially as it prepares for its merger with AIX Connect, formerly known as AirAsia India. 

In an interview with Skift, IndiGo CEO Pieter Elbers had said that multiple hubs for airlines in a country of the size and population of India would be justified. “IndiGo serves different markets from different hubs. The geographical size of India is a fantastic opportunity for us,” he said. 

While Air India Express is currently the only airline to operate from two airports in NCR, India’s largest airline IndiGo is also ready to operate from the upcoming international airport in Noida in the NCR region. For this, the airline has also signed an agreement with the airport to become its launch carrier. 

Ixigo IPO To Open Next Week

Le Travenues Technology, the parent company of Indian travel aggregator Ixigo, will be launching its initial public offering (IPO) next week. The company is looking to raise INR 7.4 billion ($89 million) from the IPO, including fresh issuance of equity shares worth INR 1.2 billion ($14.4 million). 

The company received the regulatory approval for its IPO in May. 

Ixigo is planning to use the proceeds from the IPO to partially fund its capital requirements, invest in cloud infrastructure and technology, and fund inorganic growth through acquisitions and other strategic initiatives, Skift has learnt from its draft prospectus

“Our strategy focuses on expanding our user base, particularly targeting the ‘next billion user’ market segment. We emphasize customer acquisition through robust sales and marketing activities,” the company stated in the draft papers.

Air India To Facilitate Check-In At Delhi Metro Stations

Full-service carrier Air India has partnered with Delhi Metro and Delhi airport to facilitate check-in and baggage drop for international passengers at the New Delhi and Shivaji Stadium metro stations. The facility would allow outstation travelers to check in their baggage at the metro station and explore the city baggage-free, the airline said. 

Until now, this facility was only available for domestic passengers of the airline. Travelers can avail this facility between 7 am and 9 pm. Air India has said that passengers can check in between 12 hours and 2 hours before the departure of domestic flights, while for international schedules, check-in can be done between 4 hours and 2 hours before the departure. 

The initiative will also help control congestion at the airport, said Air India chief customer experience officer Rajesh Dogra. 

Air India has also introduced a ‘Fare Lock’ feature to its ticket booking flow on the airline’s website. The feature allows customers to lock in or reserve a selected fare for 48 hours for a fixed, nominal fee so that they can finalize their travel itineraries. 

Skyscanner Signs Partnership Agreement With Akasa Air

Online travel agency Skycanner has signed a partnership agreement with budget carrier Akasa Air. As part of the agreement, Skyscanner customers would be able to access domestic and international fares offered by Akasa Air on all platforms of the travel agency. 

Skyscanner provides travelers with different fare options for their air travel. As Akasa Air is rapidly expanding its network, it is increasing its market share in the country. 

“It is critical that we connect travelers with every travel option available to them, and adding Akasa to our offering is a significant step in better serving Indian travelers,” said Hugh Aitken, VP strategic relations and development at Skyscanner. 

Spree Hospitality Signs Hotel in Nagpur

Spree Hospitality, a subsidiary of online travel agency EaseMyTrip, has signed a new property in Nagpur, marking its ninth property in the state of Maharashtra. The 42-key ZiP by Spree Hotels Orient is set to open by the end of July. 

Spree Hospitality operates in the boutique and mid-market segment in India and currently has more than 30 properties across India. The company was acquired by EaseMyTrip in 2021. At the time of the acquisition, the company was looking to reach the 200 mark over a period of five years. 

Recently, the company has opened hotels in Dehradun, McLeod Ganj, and Surat, and signed a hotel in Gurgaon. 

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