| Takeoff time
New Delhi, Nov. 19: Indian Airlines (IA) plans to start flights to Australia, the UK, China and South Africa.
IA executives told The Telegraph that the airline planned to launch flights to Sydney and Melbourne via Singapore, direct flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong and a hopping flight to Beijing.
“We are also looking at flying to Johannesburg or Cape Town via Mauritius, besides reviving our plans to fly to Birmingham,” officials said. A plan to fly to Gatwick is obviously not being taken up by the airline.
IA currently flies to other South Asian, Gulf and Southeast Asian countries as its original charter debarred it from flying beyond a specified distance.
After a protracted internal battle, last year, the Union cabinet allowed the airline to compete with private carriers like Jet and Sahara who have been allowed to fly on international routes.
IA plans to start flying on these routes from the middle of next year. The IA board has already cleared plans to buy 43 new Airbus aircraft as well as lease two wide-bodied Airbus 330s and six 70-seater jets for five years and five Airbus-320s for about three years.
IA executives said the leased A330s would be deployed on international routes.
The airline’s purchase order of a mix of Airbus-319s, Airbus-320s and Airbus-321s to be delivered over four years is not considered by many to be suitable for long-distance international routes.
If IA is successful in its international operations, it may go in for more wide-bodied orders.
But with moves to merge it with Air-India, this may not be needed and the aircraft deployed on its new routes may eventually be that of Boeing which Air-India has ordered for its expansion.