Air India, the national carrier, is planning to lease some turbo-prop aircraft to increase its connectivity to different Tier-II and Tier-III cities in the country. According to senior Air India officials, a group from the airlines is completing a study on the number of turbo-prop aircraft that is need to be leased and the routes on which they would fly. The tender for the lease proposal will be released soon. The airline is thinking of evaluating ATR aircraft and Bombardier Q 400 for this purpose at present. The officials also added that they will need to replace at least 11 aircraft from the Alliance Air (a subsidiary of Air India) fleet in the near future. According to industry experts, eventually when Air India would start its operations to Tier-II and Tier-III cities, it will try to keep the air ticket fare competitive initially to attract new customers.
Connectivity to Cities Beyond Metros
The plan by the airline to lease the turbo-prop aircraft seems to be on similar lines as that of the Ministry of Civil Aviation that has been advocating the idea of airlines growing their network to Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Additionally, the Airports Authority of India and the state-owned airport operators have also indicated that provisions for concessions on landing and parking can be a possibility to enhance air connectivity to cities beyond metros.
Growth in Customer Base
Once Air India will start its services to Tier-II and Tier-III cities, it will get ample opportunity to grow its customer base. Subsequently, this is likely to boost online air ticket booking with the emergence of various mobile applications that facilitate booking tickets on-the-go, which is in addition to the far reach of the Internet. It will be interesting to see, which all cities get the services of the Air India flights and also what would be the flight schedule like.