Aviation

Desperate Air India adds routes, expands on-flight meal

DELHI

State-owned Air India is adding more routes and looking to improve on-flight services as the debt saddled carrier seeks to turnaround its business after years of losses.

India’s national carrier has been struggling to keep up with competition in the nation’s fast-growing aviation market, reports Nikkei Asian Review. Once India’s biggest, Air India’s market share has slipped to about 16% amid rising competition from private sector rivals. The company, which has piled up ₹500 billion ($7.6 billion) of debt, is incurring annual interest costs of $600 million, even as new discount carriers lure travelers with cut-throat pricing.

Air India has added two new routes from Mumbai to Surat, a diamond hub in the western state of Gujarat and historic city Gwalior in central India, the company said in a statement last week. The carrier is seeking to tap growing demand for domestic travel, as rising incomes have made airline tickets more affordable and spurred local tourism in the world’s second-most populous nation.

The company has also roped in Ashwani Lohani, whose past roles include stints at India’s railways and a regional tourism board, as chairman and managing director earlier this year to chart its turnaround.

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