Keith Williams, Chairman, British Airways speaks with T3 about the airline’s strategy in the Indian market
India is the second largest international market for the British Airways network outside of USA. It is one of the few markets where economic growth looks promising in the near future. As of today, we fly 49 times a week to India with double dailies to Delhi and Mumbai, apart from dailies to Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. I am here to learn about what is happening in the Indian economy and what is the new government’s plan for transportation and tourism. India is again open for business, and if that grows, we are looking at growing in India. We have got the capability to grow as we have slots at Heathrow and an aircraft fleet that includes the 787.
We have a replacement programme in place for B 767. Eight Dreamliner 787-8 will join the fleet soon, and deliveries of 16 Boeing 787-9’s are expected over the next couple of years. We received 8 A-380s out of the 12 we intend to take. Also, we have number of 777’s being added to the fleet. The double dailies are working fine as these two flights at different times are convenient and beneficial to the customers.
We fly different aircraft from different cities as per the requirement of the market. We fly Boeing-747 from Delhi and 787-8 from Chennai. Our plans are really specific to the Indian cities we fly to. 747s are much suited for the sector considering both passenger and cargo environments on the route, and in a likely case of replacement it would be with new Dreamliner B 787-9.
British Airways has been servicing this market for 90 years and we look forward to our association with India for another 90 years and more. This year we create another milestone in our history with India.
We do not have any specific plans at this point of time. We have code-share agreements with many carriers around the world. But we want to see how the Indian market develops over time, and we will then link up with carriers to our hub in London from Indian cities.
Load factors from India were a bit low due to the elections here. However, it has picked up momentum in the last three months. There is increasing passenger traffic in small and medium business travel both ways since the new government came into power in India.