November 28, 2017 / 5:31 PM / 2 months ago

Air India Express plans growth before privatisation - CEO

DUBAI (Reuters) - State-owned Air India’s low cost airline Air India Express will continue to expand before the group’s privatisation next year, in a bid to increase its valuation, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Air India Express is considering adding new routes from the Indian state of Gujarat to either Dubai or Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Chief Executive K. Shyamsundar told Reuters in Dubai.

“If you had more profitable routes, more (take-off and landing) slots, it increases the value of the company,” he said at an industry conference.

Shyamsundar said the airline could also add more aircraft to its fleet, though major decisions would have to be approved by the board and potentially the government.

Air India Express committed before the privatization plans to taking two additional Boeing (BA.N) 737 jets next September, which will increase its fleet to 25 single-aisle Boeing aircraft.

    However, Shyamsundar said the airline was able to add more flights without expanding its fleet as it had increased the average daily utilization of its aircraft by an hour to 13 hours.

    The airline expects to carry 4 million passengers in the current financial year ending March 31, 2018, compared with 3.4 million in the previous year, he said.

    Reporting by Alexander CornwellEditing by Greg Mahlich

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