Air India plans flights to Tel Aviv, Washington

New Delhi: Air India plans to launch flight services to Tel Aviv and Washington as well as to cities in Africa as the operationally-profitable carrier embarks on international expansion plans.

At present, the national carrier flies to 47 destinations across the US, Europe, the Gulf and South-East Asia, among others.

“We are going to connect Washington, Africa, Tel Aviv and many others (international destinations),” Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani said here today.

Speaking at the launch of the airline’s new mobile application, developed by airlines IT services provider SITA, he said the airline is striving to turnaround.

“We have to improve our services both onboard as well as offboard… Air India is a challenge,” Lohani said.

Air India, which has been in the red for the past many years, has posted an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in the last fiscal — first time in a decade. The carrier is also working on ways to bring down its overall debt burden, especially with respect to significant interest outgo.

“We have got a good team which is going to give us better results (going forward),” Lohani said.

Asserting that the government is “supportive” to Air India, Lohani said “the support should continue till things get back in order”.

The carrier is surviving on a Rs 30,000 crore bailout package from the government that is spread over ten years.

Over Rs 22,000 crore has been provided to Air India under the turnaround plan which includes financial support towards repayment of principal as well as interest on government- guaranteed loans taken for aircraft acquisition.

Meanwhile, through the new application, passengers can book and pay for a flight by quickly and securely scanning passport as well as credit card.

In a release, SITA said passengers can fully manage their booking from their mobile device, including selecting their seat, making changes to their itinerary, buying additional services, choosing their meal and checking in.

At check-in, passengers can choose to receive their boarding pass on their phone or smartwatch. At the airport, passengers will receive regular updates on their flights and can use the app for mobile boarding.

It has been integrated with Air India’s Flying Returns loyalty programme where passengers can securely access details of points earned or other updates to their accounts.