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Keep up with IndiGo: Air India pilots union tells the airline

PW Bureau

In a letter to the aviation ministry, ICPA said that while other domestic carriers have placed huge aircraft order, Air India will be inducting only five planes in its fleet going forward New Delhi: Air India’s narrow-body pilots’ union, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), has made a pitch for aircraft fleet expansion, saying that while the private sector has scaled up its capacity, Air India has failed to do so and it is hurting the interests of the airline.

‘Not a single aircraft inducted since 2006’

In a letter to the aviation ministry, ICPA said that while other domestic carriers have placed huge aircraft order with both Airbus and Boeing, Air India will be inducting only five planes in its fleet going forward. The union’s contention is that Air India’s capacity deficiency has plunged its domestic market share. “We have remained quite stagnant in the domestic market. We still continue to operate 350-odd daily flights on domestic routes from about 300 flights 10 years ago...The load factor across all Air India flights is very high, but market share is slipping for want of additional capacity,” the ICPA said. Air India has not inducted a single aircraft since 2006 when it placed orders for purchasing 111 aircraft 68 from Boeing and 43 from Airbus. On the contrary, budget carrier IndiGo has scaled up its operations to over 1,000 flights per day in the over 10-year period, the letter pointed out.

Air India’s market share dropped 8% from 2014 to 2018

The ICPA said that Air India’s market share has dropped from 19.8 percent in January 2014 to just 11.8 percent in September this year, which incidentally is the lowest market share ever for the carrier. Budget airlines IndiGo, on the other hand, commands over 40 per cent of the total domestic passenger traffic.

Domestic market is expanding

Low jet fuel prices and excess capacity on local routes have pushed domestic passengers' travel demand and the market has been seeing a double-digit growth since August 2014. Air India was planning to induct on lease latest Airbus A320 Neo planes in 2016, but it was cut to 29 planes following the government’s decision to partially privatise it. “For our survival and to make sure that our market share does not decline any further, increasing our fleet of modern and fuel efficient of both narrow and wide body (aircraft) is of paramount importance,” the ICPA said.