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Will Air India’s Mega Aircraft Order Spell Doom For Air-Transit Business From India?

Air India’s mega aircraft order is expected to spell doom for the air-transit business from India. Also, the major beneficiaries till date, Emirates, Qatar and Etihad Airways will have to rework their strategies like Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Gulf Air did when the Gulf airlines took over the India transit business. Air India’s order for 40 Airbus A350s, 20 Boeing 787s and 10 Boeing 777 -9s wide-bodied aircraft will see it offering multiple daily direct flights to all premium destinations in USA, Europe and Canada. Air India plans to have daily flights from Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru to major U.S. cities, EU capitals, Australia and Canada to start with. The Gulf-based airlines have been fleecing Indian travellers transiting through Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi, to USA and Europe with huge fares during the peak season. The trips are often camouflaged with free stopovers, lodging and site-seeing trips. Air India’s planned direct flights to USA and Europe should see the fares drop by as much as 30% to 40%. And more importantly, the flying time saved would be four to five hours plus stop over time which is a minimum of two hours. Gulf airlines will now have to rework their India strategies by cutting fares and reducing the number of connections. Some of them may look to tie-up/acquire one of the Indian domestic carriers. As things stand, Qatar Airways was in talks with Indigo and SpiceJet. Experts feel the weaker ones like SpiceJet and Go First could be the first to be approached.