Air India Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner line number 35 test registered N1015 (later became VT-ANH) at the India Aviation show, Hyderabad March 2012. Photo copyright Devesh Agarwal.
Air India Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner line number 35 test registered N1015 (later became VT-ANH) at the India Aviation show, Hyderabad March 2012. Photo copyright Devesh Agarwal.

Air India under-serves Chennai in new non-stop to Singapore strategy

National carrier Air India will introduce an all Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, all non-stop flights strategy to Singapore from October. The airline already operates the new aircraft on the New Delhi Singapore route, and currently operates an Airbus A330-200* a Boeing 787-8 on the Mumbai Chennai Singapore return route.

Air India's new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner service to Singapore.
Air India’s new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner service to Singapore.
Map generated with GCMap.

The new flight schedule is :

AI342 will depart Mumbai at 00:05 arrive Singapore 07:55
AI343 will depart Singapore at 19:15 arrive Mumbai 22:05

In between the aircraft will also perform one round-trip to Chennai

AI347 will depart Singapore at 09:15 arrive Chennai 10:25
AI346 will depart Chennai at 11:30 arrive Singapore 17:55

Killing the golden Chennai goose

Indian passengers prefer the ‘red-eye’ over-night service to Singapore with a late evening departure on the return.

Air India’s current service which departs Mumbai at 21:25 and reaches Singapore the next morning at 07:20 has the desired schedule on the outbound, but involves a stop in Chennai and could be a reason why the airline has not been very successful ex Mumbai. However the same flight departs Chennai at 00:45 and maintains the overnight timing of the venerable and profitable IC555 service Indian Airlines used to successfully operate between Chennai and Singapore.

Chennai has significantly stronger links with Singapore compared to Mumbai, but Air India seems to have ignored this fact in its effort to make its schedule competitive at Mumbai. By removing the overnight flight ex Chennai, Air India risks sacrificing the golden Chennai goose.

At the same time it will not be easy going at Mumbai. While the new schedule is desirable, it will also pit Air India in direct competition with Singapore Airlines and its A380 service ex Mumbai. Air India is bound to lose the premium passenger to one of the best business classes in the world. Under competition, Singapore Airlines has shown its ability to discount economy class fares which will squeeze Air India’s margins in to the negative, and still make a profit thanks to filling the premium cabins and the belly hold cargo capacity, along with the connecting passenger beyond Singapore.

Chennai used to also have a day-time Indian Airlines flight between Chennai and Singapore and it would behove Air India to re-examine if that flight was successful, but for sure it must maintain the overnight Chennai Singapore flight.

*Air India’s time-table still shows the flights AI342 and AI343 as being operated by an Airbus A330-200, but has upgraded the flight to a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner effective 24 August 2014. We apologise for the error and thank our reader and support Pat Kini for highlighting our error to us.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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  1. Well, I’m glad they’ve FINALLY started nonstop Mumbai Singapore flights. Flying just 5 hours with a stopover is plain silly. I’m sure their Mumbai Singapore traffic will increase with this change – though it’s unlikely that I’ll ever take this flight unless their prices make it a drop dead bargain (which is unlikely to happen).

  2. May be this is to avoid fueling at Chennai. Fill her up at BOM in the morning, refill at SIN for MAA round trip and for BOM return trip. Minimizes gas purchase on Indian soil. MAA is the last place to purchase ATF with 30% tax. Just my 2 cents.

  3. It’s true. I prefer to travel night from Chennai to Singapore as I don’t want to waste my little available holidays. AI may lose its passengers because of this new schedule 🙁

  4. Air India doesn’t consider Bangalore at all, even though many international airlines do. There are no international flights emnating from Bangalore. The middle-east population have tried their best to see that there are direct flights from Bangalore through various channels but Bangalore is not in the Air India map. Thanks to Air Arabia, Emirates, Qatar, Lufthansa and British Airways who know the importance of Bangalore.

    • Welcome to the 21st century. Airlines have hubs and they should be routing traffic through hubs for maximum profitability. Air India does not have a hub in Bangalore and should not be routing traffic through there.

      • Why does AI run BLR-DXB via GOI? Is GOI a ‘hub” for AI? and that too a few days per week! AI can make star alliance connects to LH/LX/Austrian/United/Egyptair/Turkish at DXB(all star alliance in DXB Terminal 1) if they really want to just take a bit of EK load and make profits. On the other hand – what does it take to make a “hub” – Staff/Crew/maintenance/office space/spare parts, route studies? AI has access to all these in BLR, except perhaps for some heavy maintenance or spare aircraft. May be I am wrong

        • I get the passengers that AI is trying to catch. It’s the Goans who work in the Gulf.

          But efficient hub ops dictates that they offer an hourly service from BOM to DXB and let pax connect in BOM to GOI on flights that run every 2-3 hours.

          Your post also raises another good point. AI needs a hub in the south. BLR would be quite perfectly located.

          • I think AI already has MAA as their mini southern hub where they give direct connections to Gulf and southeast like DXB/SHJ/SIN/KUL/KWI etc..And all the european,pacific and american markets go to DEL/BOM..So it is pretty clear that either Airasia or Vistara has to use BLR to its potential because till now it hasnt got a direct connection to DXB from any indian airline forget them using it as a hub..