New Delhi: Flag carrier Air India Ltd will deploy its double-decker four-engine jumbo jet Boeing 747 on domestic flights between Delhi-Mumbai to beat airport congestion.
The airline mostly flies its twin-engine narrow body Airbus A320 plane on this route currently, typically offering 140 seats inclusive of 20 business class seats.
This will now increase to 423 seats including 12 first class seats and 26 business class seats on the upper deck of the Boeing 747 plane from Wednesday.
The bigger plane will have more leg room compared with the regular narrow body planes. No other airline offers such service currently on the route flown by many business class passengers.
“Air India to operate Queen of the Sky Boeing 747 on Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi from December 14,” the airline said on Twitter.
The Boeing 747 will take off from Delhi at 8 am and return from Mumbai at 7 pm.
Air India flies two dozen non-stop flights between the two cities daily, offering service at the top of every hour.
The airline typically flies its Boeing 747s on international routes and for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Air India One.
The move will help the airline fly more passengers in a single slot. Passengers and airlines have been hit hard by choked airports in some of the country’s largest cities.
The worst-hit airports are those in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Goa, Lucknow and Calicut.
Once India’s largest by traffic, the Mumbai airport has been congested for the past few years. Delhi too is facing challenges during peak hours for additional slots.
Its Terminal 1, used by low-cost airlines, is choked during peak hours. It has reached its capacity of 18 million passengers a year.
The Bengaluru airport, built to handle 20 million passengers a year, serviced nearly 19 million in 2015.
Hyderabad’s airport, built for 12 million passengers a year, has reached its capacity.
The Lucknow airport, which was built to accommodate 3 million passengers a year, handles 3.5 million and Calicut is nudging its 2.5 million passengers-a-year capacity.