Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) will open up new hubs across the country in the coming years as part of a strategy of both domestic and international expansion, according to its general manager for commercial strategy and planning, Purnima Nerurkar.

In private hands since the Tata Sons conglomerate bought it in January, Air India currently has it main base in Delhi Int'l and other bases in Bangalore Int'l, Chennai, Hyderabad Int'l, Kolkata Int'l, and Mumbai Int'l, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows.

It now aims to be “the largest hub carrier in the region” by opening a number of new regional hubs across the country, Nerurkar said at the recent Routes Asia 2022 forum in Da Nang.

“Air India has a strategy already in place where we have a hub at Delhi for all our long-haul and our short-haul markets. This is expected to grow because, going forward, our management’s thought and vision is to [...] create several hubs in India, which would facilitate growth from each of the regions,” she explained.

“We have a lot of important points in India which are the source markets for a lot of our long-haul markets. So, it’s important we capture this traffic, and give this traffic the right support it requires, and facilitate the growth within India. So where there is a requirement for hub, we are looking at multiple hubs in India.”

Tata Sons now controls Air India and its low-cost unit Air India Express (IX, Mumbai Int'l) as well as managing majority stakes in AirAsia India (I5, Bangalore Int'l) - which could merge into Air India - and Vistara (UK, Delhi Int'l). The flag carrier has already made “huge transformations” in the way it operates since the January takeover, according to Nerurkar, such as in reassessing its network strategy and in expanding its international network through more codeshares and interline agreements.

Speaking together with Nerurkar, Tata senior manager Jinesh Papdiwal elaborated: “We have seen the Indian market being catered to by one-stop product for a long time now. It’s time with the new management and the new vision to take back the market to direct offerings so our customers have options and direct offerings to take them to their destinations.”

He added: “With that in mind, we’ve tried to think of what our core markets are and how we grow there. North America is an important market for us, and we see that in the next few years [...] we will be tripling our capacity into North America.” Air India also wants to double capacity to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia and increase operations to Australia and markets in Southeast and Northeast Asia, he said.