Will AIX's Fleet Overhaul Change the Future of Low-Cost Travel?

Abhishek Nayar

11 Jul 2024

Air India Express is set to embark on a significant transformation. As part of a strategic fleet optimization plan, the low-cost carrier will acquire up to twenty Airbus A320 aircraft from its parent company, Air India. This move aims to enhance Air India Express's operations on domestic and short-haul international routes. The transfer of aircraft, along with cabin crew and pilots, will take place in phases over the coming months, signaling a new era for the airline.

The Fleet Transition: A Shift from Boeing to Airbus

Historically, Air India Express has been a predominantly Boeing operator, boasting a fleet that includes twenty-six B737-800s and twenty-six B737 MAX-8s. However, the airline also operates four A320-200Ns and one A320-200. This existing imbalance will be rectified with the merger of AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India) into Air India Express. AIX Connect brings to the table twenty-three A320-200s and a single A320-200N, making the newly merged entity an Airbus-dominated fleet.

The Parent Company's Role: Air India's Contribution

Air India, the parent company, currently operates nine A320-200s and forty-six A320-200Ns, with an additional 125 on order. Most of these aircraft are configured with dual-class cabins. However, the twenty A320s destined for Air India Express will undergo conversion to a single-cabin layout to align with the low-cost carrier's model. This reconfiguration is a crucial step in the broader harmonization process among Tata Sons' airline brands.

Tata Sons' Vision: Streamlining Operations

The transfer of aircraft is part of a larger overhaul by Tata Sons, the conglomerate that owns multiple airlines. This initiative includes the merger of Vistara with Air India and the integration of Tata's low-cost carriers. The goal is to reduce the number of airline brands under Tata Sons to two, simplifying operations and creating a more cohesive brand identity.

Leadership's Perspective: Air India CEO's Insights

Air India CEO Campbell Wilson recently highlighted the ongoing harmonization efforts between the various airlines. According to Wilson, these processes are well underway, and the group aims to complete the mergers by the end of the year. This strategic consolidation is expected to enhance operational efficiency, improve customer experience, and strengthen the competitive position of Tata Sons' airlines in the market.

Conclusion: A Promising Future for Air India Express

The fleet overhaul and mergers represent a bold move towards a more streamlined and efficient operation for Air India Express and the broader Tata Sons aviation portfolio. As the airline transitions to a predominantly Airbus fleet and integrates its operations with AIX Connect, passengers can look forward to improved service and expanded route options. The ongoing harmonization and consolidation efforts promise to reshape the landscape of low-cost travel in India and beyond, setting the stage for a new era of growth and innovation in the aviation sector.

With Inputs from ch-aviation

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The Art of the Upsell: How Airlines are Mastering Fare Families for Profit and Passenger Comfort

Abhishek Nayar

11 Jul 2024

Booking an economy seat on a flight has transformed into a series of choices, with airlines offering numerous upsell options to enhance passenger experience and maximize revenue. This strategy is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with major airlines like IndiGo and Air India introducing multiple fare types that bundle tickets with various extras. This article delves into how these airlines are reshaping their pricing models and what it means for travelers.

The Rise of Fare Families

IndiGo's Pricing Revolution

Since July, IndiGo, India's market leader, has significantly raised cancellation fees for its lowest fare bracket, known as the "saver fare." Passengers in this category now pay Rs 3,999 for last-minute cancellations, up from the previous Rs 3,500. However, those opting for the "Super 6E fare," a higher fare bracket, enjoy a reduced cancellation fee of Rs 999. This fare includes additional perks such as free booking of roomier XL seats and an extra 5 kg luggage allowance over the standard 15 kg.

An IndiGo spokesperson explained, “IndiGo has revised its cancellation and change fee policy to provide even more choice and flexibility to customers during their flight booking process. These changes are designed to give customers added flexibility and control when booking or amending their flights.”

Air India's Strategic Shift

Under Tata Group's ownership, Air India has also adopted a tiered fare structure. Previously, the airline offered 25 kg of free luggage for all passengers, but now this is limited to the highest fare bracket, "Flex." This fare allows 25 kg of luggage and offers free rescheduling, while lower fare brackets incur a Rs 3,000 fee for changes.

An Air India official highlighted the value proposition: “The price difference between a normal and ‘Flex’ ticket would be around Rs 1000 on a Delhi-Mumbai flight, but provide value of nearly Rs 5000, like 10kg extra baggage, zero change or cancellation fees, and more choice of free seats.”

The Impact on Travelers

Airlines report that these new pricing models are resonating with passengers. Even economy flyers are willing to pay extra for the added benefits, such as avoiding high cancellation or change fees, especially as travel plans become more spontaneous.

“Since introducing a menu-based pricing model last year, a significant number of Air India guests have opted for higher fare families even as lower options were available. Fare families make sense for today’s travelers who have varied preferences and value having the choice of features and services at different price points,” said an Air India spokesperson.

The Financial Implications for Airlines

Historically, Indian carriers have struggled to generate significant ancillary revenue. According to aviation consultancy firm CAPA, while passenger traffic has grown at double-digit percentages, non-passenger revenue growth has lagged at below 5%. However, executives believe that the introduction of personalized pricing models is crucial in a market where 80% of seats are in no-frills cabins.

An IndiGo official noted, “In a market where yields are razor-thin and where airlines are not free to unbundle fares due to strict government regulations, the airlines are trying to promote personalized pricing. These extra revenues over the base fare are a critical driver of financial robustness.”


The strategic shift towards fare families and upselling is proving effective for airlines like IndiGo and Air India. By offering passengers greater flexibility and choice, airlines are not only enhancing the travel experience but also securing much-needed additional revenue streams. As this trend continues, travelers can expect even more tailored options designed to meet their diverse needs and preferences.

With Inputs from Economic Times

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Are Aircraft Delivery Delays Grounding Lufthansa Group's Ambitions?

Abhishek Nayar

11 Jul 2024

The Lufthansa Group, a major European airline conglomerate, has faced significant operational and financial challenges due to aircraft delivery delays from Airbus and Boeing. CEO Carsten Spohr highlighted the severity of the issue, revealing potential annual losses of up to €500 million ($540 million). The delays have forced the airline group to make substantial operational adjustments, including reactivating its Airbus A380 fleet.

Impact on Financial Performance

Speaking at the business press club in late June, Spohr underscored the financial ramifications of the delays. The repeated postponements in aircraft deliveries, compounded by production problems and certification delays, have created considerable uncertainty in the company's capacity forecasts. In Q1 2024, the group's financial performance was severely affected by multiple strikes by labor unions, resulting in a significant impact on capacity growth. Year-on-year (YoY) capacity, measured in available seat kilometers (ASK), grew by 12%, but the group's operating and financial performance deteriorated significantly due to these disruptions.

Reactivation of Airbus A380s

Lufthansa's decision to reactivate its Airbus A380 fleet was a direct response to high demand and the delays in new aircraft deliveries. The German airline began flying its fifth Airbus A380 in March, with additional A380s reactivated in 2024 and 2025. The reactivation of these aircraft was necessary to meet the growing demand in the long-haul segment, which was otherwise hindered by the delivery delays.

Ongoing Aircraft Deliveries

The Lufthansa Group is currently awaiting the delivery of 250 aircraft, including those acquired on the second-hand market. This fleet expansion involves seven airlines within the group, including Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Lufthansa City Airlines, and Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS). However, the group's capacity forecast remains uncertain due to ongoing production and certification delays affecting the entire industry.

Strikes and Operational Challenges

The widespread strikes by various employee groups within the Lufthansa Group and at system partners further exacerbated the operational challenges. These disruptions led to a 6.3% YoY drop in unit revenues due to lower yields, increased compensations paid to passengers, and declining income from the leasing of belly capacity to Lufthansa Cargo. Flight delays and compensations during the three-month period amounted to €98 million ($105.9 million), a significant increase from €34 million ($36.7 million) in Q1 2023.

Engine Maintenance Issues

In addition to the delays from Airbus and Boeing, Lufthansa Group has faced issues with Pratt & Whitney engines. The PW1100G engines, used in the Airbus A320neo family, have required accelerated inspections and removals due to a manufacturing issue. This has strained maintenance capacity, with 13 of Lufthansa's 97 PW1100G-powered aircraft currently stored and 23 in maintenance. Despite these challenges, Lufthansa Group is optimistic about negotiations with Pratt & Whitney for compensation for the financial losses incurred.


The Lufthansa Group's struggle with aircraft delivery delays from Airbus and Boeing, combined with internal strikes and maintenance issues with Pratt & Whitney engines, has significantly impacted its operations and financial performance. As the group navigates these challenges, it remains to be seen how effectively it can manage the uncertainties and continue to meet the growing demand in the aviation industry.

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FAA Orders Urgent Inspections of Boeing 737 Oxygen Masks

Abhishek Nayar

10 Jul 2024

In a significant safety directive, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Monday that it is mandating inspections for approximately 2,600 Boeing 737 airplanes. This urgent action stems from concerns that passenger oxygen masks could potentially fail during an emergency due to issues with a retention strap.

The Core Issue: Oxygen Generators Out of Position

The FAA's directive specifically targets 737 MAX and Next Generation models. The agency’s decision follows multiple reports indicating that passenger service unit oxygen generators have been found shifting out of position. This misalignment could lead to a critical failure in providing supplemental oxygen to passengers in the event of cabin depressurization.

Boeing's Proactive Measures

Boeing has been proactive in addressing this issue. On June 17, the company issued a bulletin to airlines, urging them to conduct visual inspections of the oxygen generators. Boeing discovered that a new adhesive, introduced in August 2019, had under certain circumstances allowed the oxygen generator units to shift up to three-quarters of an inch.

In response, Boeing has reverted to the original adhesive for all new aircraft deliveries to ensure the oxygen generators remain securely in place. The company assured that inspections of both the in-service fleet and undelivered airplanes have not revealed any instances where the oxygen generators failed to operate correctly.

FAA's Directive: Detailed Inspections and Immediate Corrective Actions

The FAA's airworthiness directive, which took effect immediately, outlines a comprehensive inspection process for airlines. Within a timeframe of 120 to 150 days, depending on the specific 737 model, airlines must conduct a general visual inspection. If necessary, they are required to replace the oxygen generators with new or serviceable units, update the strap thermal pads, and reposition any impacted oxygen generators.

Furthermore, the FAA has prohibited airlines from installing potentially defective parts, ensuring that future maintenance adheres to the highest safety standards.

The Scope of Inspections: Understanding the Numbers

A typical Boeing 737 is equipped with 61 oxygen generators, and each generator is secured with two straps. The inspection and potential replacement of these components are crucial to maintaining the safety and reliability of these aircraft.

Commitment to Passenger Safety

Both the FAA and Boeing have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to passenger safety through these actions. While the issue at hand involves a specific component, the broader implication is clear: ensuring every possible measure is taken to protect passengers in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Conclusion: Safety Above All

As airlines work swiftly to comply with the FAA’s directive, passengers can rest assured that both the regulatory bodies and aircraft manufacturers are diligently working to address and resolve any potential safety issues. This directive not only underscores the importance of ongoing maintenance and inspections but also highlights the industry’s unwavering dedication to passenger safety.

With Inputs from Reuters

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SpiceJet's Legal Turbulence: A Hopeful Settlement on the Horizon

Abhishek Nayar

10 Jul 2024

In a significant development for India's budget airline, SpiceJet, the carrier hopes to resolve a longstanding INR 1.15 billion (USD 13.8 million) claim by GASL Ireland Leasing A 1 Limited, an aircraft leasing special purpose vehicle controlled by Genesis Aircraft Services. Representing SpiceJet at the Delhi High Court on July 5, legal counsel Amit Sibal announced that the airline plans to present a settlement proposal within the next fortnight.

Background of the Legal Dispute

The ongoing dispute between GASL Ireland Leasing and SpiceJet dates back to a leasing agreement for a Boeing 737-800, registered as VT-SLI (MSN 29670), which entered the SpiceJet fleet in May 2017 and has since been retired. GASL has pursued enforcement of two UK court judgments against SpiceJet and is now seeking an attachment of SpiceJet's assets to satisfy these orders. GASL has requested that the Indian court mandate SpiceJet to disclose its assets, both movable and immovable.

SpiceJet's Financial Maneuvering

In an effort to resolve its financial obligations and stabilize its operations, SpiceJet has been actively raising capital. Sibal informed the court that the airline recently secured INR 5 billion (USD 60 million) through an equity issue and anticipates an additional INR 7 billion (USD 83.9 million) shortly.

The airline's overarching goal is to amass INR 20 billion (USD 239.6 million) to recapitalize and rejuvenate its operations. Sibal emphasized that any orders to attach SpiceJet's assets could hinder its ability to attract further investment, a crucial factor in the airline's recovery plan. Consequently, the Delhi High Court has adjourned the matter until July 19 to allow SpiceJet to finalize its settlement proposal.

Additional Legal Challenges: Shannon Engine Support Limited

Insolvency Proceedings

While SpiceJet grapples with the GASL claim, it faces another legal hurdle from Shannon Engine Support Limited, the world's largest lessor of CFM56 and LEAP engines. Shannon has initiated insolvency proceedings against SpiceJet in India's National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). According to court records, Shannon filed its petition on May 31, with the next hearing scheduled for August 22.

The Road Ahead for SpiceJet

SpiceJet's ability to navigate these legal and financial challenges will be pivotal in determining its future. The airline's efforts to settle the GASL claim and its broader capital-raising initiatives indicate a proactive approach to overcoming its current difficulties. However, the outcome of the insolvency proceedings initiated by Shannon Engine Support will also play a crucial role in shaping the airline's trajectory.

Investor and Customer Confidence

For investors and customers alike, SpiceJet's handling of these issues will be a critical indicator of its long-term viability. Successful resolution of the GASL claim and effective management of its financial restructuring could bolster confidence in the airline's recovery prospects.


As SpiceJet maneuvers through these turbulent times, its commitment to settling outstanding claims and securing necessary capital demonstrates a determined effort to restore stability and growth. The upcoming court hearings and financial milestones will be key moments to watch, offering insights into the airline's ability to emerge from its current challenges stronger and more resilient.

With Inputs from ch-aviation

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How is Air India Merging Tata Group Airlines to Create a Unified Aviation Giant?

Abhishek Nayar

10 Jul 2024

In a major stride towards creating a more cohesive and efficient aviation ecosystem, Air India (AI) recently announced the successful harmonization of operating procedures across key functions of the four Tata Group airlines. This marks a significant milestone in the ongoing merger process, which aims to streamline operations and enhance service delivery. Here’s a closer look at what this transformation entails and how it will impact the Indian aviation landscape.

The Merger Blueprint: Unifying Full-Service and Low-Cost Carriers

Vistara Joins Air India

The merger involves integrating Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Group (51 percent) and Singapore Airlines (49 percent), into Air India to create a single, robust full-service carrier. This strategic move is expected to leverage the strengths of both airlines, offering passengers an enhanced travel experience with broader network coverage.

Air India Express and AIX Connect Merge

Simultaneously, Air India Express and AIX Connect are merging to form a unified low-cost airline. This consolidation is designed to provide a streamlined and cost-effective service, catering to the price-sensitive segment of the market while maintaining operational efficiency.

Harmonizing Operating Procedures: The Backbone of the Merger

Over the past 18 months, a dedicated team of more than 100 members has worked meticulously to align on best practices and adopt common operating procedures across the Tata Group airlines. This collaborative effort has resulted in the creation of two separate, comprehensive manuals: one for the full-service carrier and another for the low-cost carrier.

Regulatory Support and Oversight

Campbell Wilson, CEO and Managing Director of Air India, emphasized the critical role of regulatory bodies in this process. He expressed gratitude for the support received from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The DGCA's continuous guidance and the systematic review and approval of the harmonized operating manuals have been instrumental in achieving this milestone.

Wilson highlighted the importance of the live tracker created by the DGCA's Flight Standards Directorate. This tool, managed by a dedicated team, has provided continuous monitoring of the harmonization progress, ensuring timely and efficient implementation of the new procedures.

What’s Next? Crew Training and Implementation

With the harmonized procedures in place, Air India and its group companies are now focusing on the next crucial step: crew training. By training crew members on the new processes, the airlines aim to ensure a seamless transition to the harmonized systems, thereby enhancing operational efficiency and service quality.

Building the New Air India and Air India Express

This harmonization effort is a key component of building the new Air India and Air India Express. As the merger process progresses, passengers can look forward to a more integrated and efficient travel experience, with improved connectivity and service standards.

Conclusion: A New Era for Indian Aviation

The harmonization of operating procedures across the Tata Group airlines represents a significant leap forward in the Indian aviation sector. By aligning on best practices and creating unified operational frameworks, the group is poised to offer enhanced service delivery and operational efficiency. As the merger process moves towards completion by the end of this year, the Indian aviation landscape is set to witness a transformative shift, promising better experiences for travelers and a stronger competitive edge for the Tata Group airlines.

With Inputs from Business Standard