In a move towards a hybrid model of operation mix of full-service and low-cost flights in the domestic sector,Air India had decided to replace 19 old short-haul planes with all-economy aircraft by the end of current fiscal.
According to the plan,the national carrier will replace 14 Airbus 320s with 168 seats and 5 Airbus 319 with 144 seats,with Airbus 320s that will have 180 seats in an all-economy configuration.
These new aircraft,which will be taken on lease,will help in increasing capacity in two ways. One will be through the increase in number of seats and the second will be through increase in utilisation of aircraft to around 11 hours daily from around 8 hours now, said a senior Air India official.
We are yet to decide on the services that will be provided to passengers flying in these single configuration planes. What we have decided is that these planes will certainly not be used for full-service operations, said the official. With the induction of single-class aircraft,Air India,which has so far stayed away from providing cheaper no-frills alternative to passengers in the domestic sector,will become the last Indian carrier to do so. Jet Airways,the other full-service carrier,has a low-cost subsidiary,JetLite,and also provides low-cost flights under the Jet Airways brand.
Meanwhile,Air India may also convert its eight Boeing 777 200-LRs (long range) aircraft in its fleet to all economy configurations,if a plan to sell the aircraft fails to take off.