Debt-stricken Air India has registered another improvement in year-on-year performance in February,with average passenger revenue growing by a healthy 32 per cent,a senior airline official said.
While revenue from international network grew 20 per cent,the same from the domestic network rose nearly 58 per cent during the period,taking the overall revenue rise to 32 per cent.
“The airline’s on-time performance has improved by up to 80 per cent across the network,in the first week of March,reaching as high as 88 per cent on March 8,” the official said.
While capacity on its international services remained more or less stagnant,on the domestic service,it went up by 20 per cent and on the overall network by 4 per cent,he added.
There was also an increase in the number of passengers carried,which went up 13.4 per cent on the overall network,he said.
The airline’s yield per revenue kilometre increased 17 per cent on international routes and nearly 31 per cent on its domestic routes. On the overall network,there has been a 24 per cent increase in the yield.
Increase in fuel cost,however,continues to dent Air India’s substantial increase in revenues,he said.
“However,aviation turbine fuel prices alone registered an increase of 20 per cent in February. For the entire year,Air India expects the impact of the increase in aviation turbine fuel to be in the region of Rs 2,000 crore.
On a cumulative basis,from April 2011 to February 2012,its fuel cost has gone up by 40 per cent. If it was not for the fuel price we would have done far better,” he said.
He said that the airline is also examining the idea of direct import of fuel as recently permitted by the government to save on fuel cost.
Air India’s financial restructuring plan is awaiting Cabinet approval and most of the banks have agreed in principle to the Rs 18,000 crore debt restructuring plan.
Some cost rationalisation measures already implemented by Air India include,phasing out of its Airbus 310 aircraft,reduction in the deployment of Boeing 747s,return of its leased aircraft,grounding of its ageing fleet for disposal,refinancing of some of the high cost loans with lower interest rates,as well as reduction of contractual employment.
“We have reduced the number of our former employees hired,who had been on contract. This has reduced our costs,” he said.
The airline is also set to implement its new international schedule from March 25 by increasing frequencies on the Delhi-Tokyo-Delhi route from four flights to five flights per week.
The frequency on the Delhi-Dammam-Delhi route will be increased from two flights per week to daily flights,while the Delhi-Bahrain-Delhi route would have daily connectivity.
Also,daily flights will be introduced on the Dubai-Vizag route,he said.
On the domestic network,the airline will increase its frequency on the Mumbai-Kochi-Mumbai to two flights daily and also introduce a new Hyderabad-Kolkata-Hyderabad flight,the official said.
Meanwhile,Boeing will shortly showcase the airline’s Dreamliner Boeing 787aircraft painted in Air India’s colors and internal livery at the Hyderabad Air Show 2012 between March 14 and 18 March. The Boeing Dreamliner is expected to be cornerstone of Air India’s turnaround due to its fuel efficiencies.