Air India Express (IX, Delhi International) has received approval for the acquisition of three additional aircraft, which are expected to fuel a major expansion in the Gulf region for the airline. It is believed that the carrier will look to add frequencies on its routes to destinations like Abu Dhabi International, Sharjah, Muscat, Ras al Khaimah International, and Kuwait.

Speaking to Arabian Business, an unnamed executive from the carrier said: “Air India Express was given permission recently to acquire three new aircraft. We will soon be floating tenders for their acquisition. The fleet expansion will be used to expand our operations in the Gulf sector.”

Air India Express had plans last year to increase its Middle East capacity, but these were thwarted by the Indian government's decision to pursue the now-imminent privatisation of its parent Air India.

Air India Express currently flies to its existing Gulf airports from the following Indian airports:

  • Abu Dhabi - Delhi International, Kochi International, Kozhikode, and Thiruvananthapuram (all daily), Kannur (5x weekly), and Mangalore Bajpe (4x weekly);
  • Sharjah - Kochi and Kozhikode (both 8x weekly), Varanasi, Kannur and Mumbai International (all flown daily), Surat and Thiruvananthapuram (both 4x weekly), and Chandigarh (3x weekly);
  • Muscat - Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode (all flown daily), Kannur and Mangalore (3x weekly);
  • Ras al Khaimah - Kozhikode (2x weekly);
  • Kuwait City - Kozhikode (5x weekly), Mangalore via Bahrain International (3x weekly), and Kannur via Bahrain (2x weekly);
  • Bahrain - Kozhikode and Kochi (both flown daily), Mangalore (3x weekly) and Kannur (2x weekly);
  • Al Ain - Kozhikode (2x weekly);
  • Dammam - Kozhikode and Mangalore (both 3x weekly)
  • Doha Hamad International - Kochi and Kozhikode (both flown daily), Thiruvananthapuram (6x weekly), Kannur (5x weekly), Mumbai (4x weekly) and Mangalore (3x weekly);
  • Dubai International - Mangalore (2x daily), Kozhikode (13x weekly), Amritsar, Lucknow, Delhi, Mumbai, and Tiruchirapally (all flown daily), Kochi (6x weekly), Thiruvananthapuram (5x weekly), Jaipur (4x weekly), and Pune (3x weekly); - Riyadh - Kozhikode (5x weekly) and Kannur (2x weekly)
  • Salalah - Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram (once weekly).

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the airline currently operates 25 B737-800s, of which seventeen are owned, eight are leased, and it is keen to maintain fleet commonality. "Maintaining single fleet aircraft is necessary to save costs on engineering, maintenance and pilot training,” the airline executive explained.