Air India Express is strategically targeting the rising disposable incomes in Tier 2 and 3 markets, and expects to dominate leisure travel in India in 2024, said Ankur Garg, Chief Commercial Officer. 

The company aims to tap into these markets by attracting a higher proportion of leisure travelers and price-sensitive customers.

“We believe that Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with rising disposable income and favorable demographics will continue to script the Indian aviation growth story,” Garg told businessline

In 2023, Air India Express successfully inaugurated three new destinations — Surat, Gwalior and Ayodhya; apart from new routes from its hub in Bengaluru, the new routes include flights to Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Kannur, Kozhikode, and Varanasi., From its Hyderabad hub it came up with flights to Amritsar, Gwalior, Lucknow, Kochi, from Delhi to Gwalior and Ayodhya.

Garg called 2023, a “transformative year” for Air India Express, stating that it was amplified by the investments in “scale and customer experience improvements”. 

Speaking about the investments in human capital, he added that the company recruited 480 new pilots and 1385 cabin crew members into its workforce from both metros as well as smaller cities and towns. The airline currently has a workforce of 5,500 employees.

AIX has a fleet of 63 aircraft, including 35 Boeing 737s and 28 Airbus A320s. It facilitates over 325 daily flights across 31 domestic and 14 international airports. Garg added that this is a “strategic vision” to expand its network by adding more flight routes across the country, particularly targeting popular destinations among cost-conscious travelers, while “aligning with Air India’s focus on lucrative routes with premium services.”

“Leveraging our codeshare agreement with Air India, we aim to facilitate seamless smart travel from deeper Indian markets to international destinations.”

The airline will broaden its presence in the Gulf by introducing two new routes to Dammam from Mumbai and Hyderabad. 

Air India Express, was owned by the government until the Tata Group placed a bid to buyout both Air India and Air India Express in 2022. The Tata group then decided to merge AirAsia India with Air India Express. 

According to consultancy firm CAPA India, AIX’s growth “had plateaued at around 20-25 aircraft for some 15 years”, and is expected to have a fleet of more than 100 aircraft in 2024. The low-cost carrier has said that it aims to double its fleet size in the near term, targeting 50 new Boeing 737-8 aircraft by December 2025. 

CAPA India’s report stated that IndiGo may place a widebody aircraft order. This move will trigger Air India express “the induction of widebodies for long haul operations in the near-term”.