Air India’s international hub in Frankfurt to start operations on March 29, 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009, 18:40 by Aviation Correspondent

Air India, the national air carrier of India, will start operations at its first-ever international hub, in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 29, 2009.

The famous logo - Air India Maharaja

The famous logo - Air India Maharaja

This is being done as part of a major plan of the country’s flagship carrier towards enhancing its global network and the launch of the hub would offer passengers of Air India flying to the United States greater flexibility and convenience, Air India said.

According to Jitender Bhargava, executive director of Air India, the airline will launch, from its international hub at Frankfurt, scissor operations to and from North America. All these flights would be operated by brand-new Boeing 777-300 (Extended Range) planes in a three-class configuration that offers a total of 342 seats.

At Frankfurt, a passenger flying with Air India from Delhi in India to Newark, New Jersey, the United States, would be quickly transferred to the Mumbai-Newark flight and passenger travelling to Chicago from Mumbai, India, would have to change the aircraft on the Delhi-Chicago route. It will take around 19 hours, including the changeover time at Frankfurt, for a passenger to reach cities in the United States from India, Bhargava said.  The changeover time at Frankfurt, he added, would be minimal as most aircraft of Air India would be parked side by side and a passenger would only have to change from one gate to another.

The daily flight to Chicago from Delhi via Frankfurt will leave at about 1 a.m. and reach Frankfurt around 6 a.m. (local time) and, after a two-hour break, proceed to Chicago to land at 10.30 a.m. (local time). This, Bhargava said, would give sufficient time for passengers from India’s northern states and eastern states to reach Delhi by late evening and catch the flight.  Jitender Bhargava told reporters in New Delhi that the Frankfurt hub, which becomes operational at the start of the summer schedule for some of Air India’s flights, would offer “more convenient connections to a larger originating traffic.”

Air India would be the second India-based carrier to have an international hub after Jet Airways set up its international hub in Brussels in 2007.

In the summer schedule, Bhargava announced, Air India would double the number of weekly flights being operated on the Amritsar-London-Toronto sector from the 3 flights at present to 6 flights.

In addition, the airline will introduce few new flights, including an Ahmedabad-Frankfurt connection. Once the -Frankfurt connection flight takes off, a passenger travelling from Ahmedabad will be able to travel either to any European destination thanks to the code-share arrangement with the German airline Lufthansa. All these international flights, according to the executive director of Air India, are also being connected domestically through hub-and-spoke operations from and to places like Kochi, Bangalore or Chennai to Mumbai and onwards.

Air India will not reduce the existing number of flights being operated during the start of the summer schedule. Instead, added Bhargava, the operations were being restructured “with a view to improving the reach and cover a larger geographical area on our West-bound flights.”

Tagged with: ,