Since the induction of the latest Boeing Dreamliner 787 on Mumbai-Narita route last year, there has been a gradual surge in tourist numbers from India into Japan, shared Yasuo Taki. He explained that while the upward tick in air-traffic from India was an encouraging sign, more seats needed to be sold to truly realise the potential of the outbound. Excerpts from an exclusive interaction:
With more frequency in service on the Indian route, what is the profile of the Indian outbound? Has there been a change in trends in the recent past?
We are now operating two double daily flights, from Mumbai and Delhi, to Narita International Airport in Tokyo. This year is our tenth anniversary operating from Mumbai route and fifth anniversary on the Delhi route. So we are pretty much satisfied with current routes and operations but, still, we need more customers, especially Indian travellers to Japan.
You said, you would want more outbound from India. Would you share with us what sort of load factors has the airline been getting in the recent past?
I do not have a specific figure, right now, but we have a lot of seats to be sold. Not only corporate travellers but also leisure and niche segment travellers.
Apart from the direct traffic to Tokyo from the two Indian cities – Delhi and Mumbai, what is the latest in terms of through traffic? Do you cater to that aspect as well? Do you get Indian travellers, say flying to the USA from Tokyo?
Yes, certainly. We cater to the trough traffic to the West coast. However, we are now heavily focussed on the direct traffic to Japan from India – business and leisure traffic.
Given that you have been in the Indian market for ten years, what is your take on the change in the profile of the Indian outbound? Do you see more business traveller, now, with more government and corporate-level engagements between India and Japan?
There has been a significant shift in the profile of the customer, especially on the Mumbai-Narita route. Last year, we changed the aircraft type from a very small Boeing-737 to new Boeing Dreamliner 787. It has more or less 170 seats. So we have four times the number of seats than we did before. There has been a very big jump in the number of travellers from India, especially, from Mumbai has dramatically increased.
And this trend can be attributed to business and corporate travel?
Not only corporate but leisure as well. We need more passengers; more seats are available.
How is the alliance part working out?
We are in the Star Alliance and have code share agreement with Jet Airways and a partnership with Vistara as well. Of course, Air India is also a member of Star Alliance. So we have 23 alliance partners in India. We are satisfied with that.