India’s only government-owned airline, Alliance Air, could offer flight connections to nearby countries in the future. The airline focuses primarily on regional routes in the country, operating a fleet of ATR and Dornier turboprop aircraft. But its CEO recently said that flights to nearby international destinations are also being considered.
Offshore flights from regional India
While airports like Delhi (DEL) and Mumbai (BOM) are usually on top of the list for Indian airlines while planning international flights, Alliance Air could buck the trend and focus on connecting smaller cities with offshore destinations. According to a report by moneycontrol.com, the state-owned carrier could offer flights to countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. Its Chief Executive Officer Vino Sood commented,
While he gave no timeline or any other details, it remains to be seen how soon these services will be implemented. Alliance Air did operate a flight to Jaffna in Sri Lanka before the pandemic. Its fleet of short-range turboprobs does limit its options to nearby destinations only, but it’ll be interesting to see what new connections these flights might open once they become operational.
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Fleet and network enhancement
Alliance Air’s network expands to more than 50 destinations in India, mainly to tier-2 and 3 cities. The carrier has recently introduced new aircraft that allow it to operate to trickier and less-accessible airports and enhance connectivity in such regions. Sood commented,
Alliance Air also operates an India-made Dornier Do-228 aircraft, which can operate to many airstrips that were previously out of reach for fixed-wing aircraft. The carrier’s newly acquired shorter ATR 42 planes are also flying to high-terrain routes with short runways, such as Shimla and Kullu.
With Air India becoming a private player at the beginning of this year, Alliance Air is the only state-owned commercial carrier. The dynamics of Indian aviation have changed in post-COVID times with passengers coming back, several airlines clumped under the Tata brand, the entry of Akasa Air, and rising fuel prices.
And another development regarding Alliance Air is also on the cards. While there is no official timeline set, the central government is said to have started getting all the formalities in place, involving government guarantees that were given to Alliance, so it could be ready to seek expression of interest for its privatization.
Alliance Air was part of Air India, and in April, almost three months after Air India’s privatization, it announced that it had completed the process of becoming a standalone airline, which meant that the carrier no longer relied on Air India’s network of bookings, customer service, or anything else.
With new international routes in the pipeline and privatization plans, the coming year could be eventful for Alliance Air.