Air India reduces Middle East flights amidst aircraft and crew shortages

An Air India Boeing Dreamliner approaching to land.
Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With ongoing aircraft and crew shortages, Air India will suspend some of its Middle East flight operations in coming months to alleviate pressure, AviationSource writer Gaurav Gowda reports.

Supply chain issues have been causing problems all over the world and the aviation industry is particularly affected.

Supply chains issues has forced airlines such as India’s Go First to trim down its operations for the summer peak season, which is one of the most profitable periods for the airlines in India.

Air India seems to be on the same track, although for Air India it’s not only supply chain issues but also issues with aircraft and crew shortages.

The current set of conditions is forcing the airline to reduce its frequency to four Middle Eastern countries. This is a sector where Indian airlines are keen to place a presence, and according to a report published by Moneycontrol, the airline has subsequently reduced its frequency .

The affected countries which will see a reduction in flight frequency are Abu Dhabi, Oman, Qatar and Dubai.

According to the circular issued by the airline to its travel agents, the airline will now suspend its weekly flight on Saturdays on the Delhi-Muscat sector from 29th April, 2023.

It also mentions that it’s weekly flight on Delhi-Doha sector operating on Sundays stands to be suspended from 30th April to 28th May, 2023.

It also mentions that it’s Delhi-Dubai flight operating on every Tuesday will be cancelled from 2nd May to 30th May, and it’s Delhi-Abu Dhabi flights on Wednesday will also cease from May 3rd to May 31st 2023.

This news comes as a shocker especially when airlines like Emirates has requested GOI to considering increasing their bilateral seat allotment due to increase in demand.

Akasa Air is keen on starting its international operations and including Dubai International Airport on its list.

Air India has been in the process of refurbishing its entire old and obsolete fleet, as it was in a dire state and needed upgrading. Even in our trip reviews we found how inconsistent their fleet experiences are.

Air India is also suffering from crew shortages and a shortage of pilots qualified for its Boeing 777 fleet which has previously forced the airline to reduce frequency for its flights to USA.

This issue has resulted in the airline either cancelling or rescheduling or delaying their flights. Air India has been actively hiring new pilots and cabin crew and expects this issue to be resolved soon.

The airline also plans to build a state-of-the-art training center, and the fresh mega order by the airline will help them overcome their issues with aircraft availability.

The Indian carrier has also been focused on getting its grounded aircraft back into service along with the refurbishment work.

Whilst under control of the government of India, aircraft like the widebody Boeing 787 were grounded due to lack of spares, and the airline would rotate spares and components to use on an operational aircraft.

This is not an uncommon practice in aviation, however criticality of spares and components supply compounds the problem.

Speaking on the issue of reducing its Middle East flight frequencies, a spokesman was quoted by MoneyControl as saying:  

“Air India will cut flights to the Middle East after Eid-ul-Fitr as traffic falls drastically after the Eid holidays in those countries, while domestic summer traffic in India will rise due to school vacations.”

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