Air India is set to increase capacity between India and Israel from August with the start of two new routes to Tel Aviv. The carrier has scheduled the launch of flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion (TLV) from both Bengaluru (BLR) and Mumbai (BOM). The airline already flies to the city from Delhi (DEL).
Data filed with OAG Schedules Analyser show that Air India intends to begin BOM-TLV on August 1 followed by flights to TLV from BLR the next day.
Each route will be served twice a week using Boeing 787-8 aircraft. However, reservations are yet to open. According to the OAG data, the schedule from BLR is in place until October 25 and from BOM until October 27.
Air India, which was acquired by Tata Group in January, began flying to Israel in March 2018 with a route connecting Delhi and Tel Aviv. The airline currently provides three flights per week between the destinations onboard 787-8s.
Prior to the pandemic, El Al Israel Airlines operated nonstop between Mumbai and Tel Aviv, flying twice a week with 787-8s. However, the carrier suspended the service in March 2020 and flights have yet to restart.
Speaking at Routes Asia 2022 in Da Nang, Vietnam, Air India’s general manager of commercial strategy and planning Purnima Nerurkar said Air India’s new parent intends to open several new regional hubs across the country, with the ambition of becoming “the largest hub carrier in the region.”
“Air India has the strategy already in place where we have a hub at Delhi for all our long-haul and our short-haul markets,” she said. “This is expected to grow because going forward, our management’s thought and vision are to … create several hubs in India, which would facilitate growth from each of the regions.”
Air India’s planned Tel Aviv expansion comes as rating agency Icra said international passenger traffic for Indian carriers is on a growth trajectory and surged to about 2.1 million in June 2022, compared with 1.8 million in June 2019.
In the country’s home market, domestic passenger traffic grew to 10.5 million in June 2022, up from 3.1 million in June 2021 and only 12% down on June 2019 levels.
Expansion in Israel is part of Air India’s more extensive international plans. The carrier wants to double the capacity to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Central CIS countries and ramp up operations to Australia and markets in Southeast and Far East Asia.
Direct flights to the US also remain a high priority for the carrier. Air India has not been able to add more destinations in the US, despite strong demand for such flights.