12 years ago, three flights took off simultaneously from Trivandrum, Kochi and Kozhizode marking the beginning of a new chapter in low-cost international travel and introducing the Indian expatriate to Air India Express. Air India Express, a low cost subsidiary of Air India, and the country’s first international budget airline was founded in May 2004 with the delivery of first aircraft for the airline on February 22 2005. Over the past decade, we have been working around the clock to provide the cheapest air travel while simultaneously ensuring that you are treated with the best quality of services on-board and off.
Today we fly to 13 destinations with 475 weekly departures, involving about 1700 flight hours. With most of our flights operating from South India, particularly from Kerala, it was decided that Kochi be made the headquarters of AIE in January 2013. Our focus over the years has been to provide quality services at the cheapest rates and we decided to focus on Indian expatriates in the Middle East and South East Asia where we operate almost 100 flights per week.
Over the years, our fleet has grown to 23 aircrafts with a 189 seater economy configuration and we have you, our customers, to thank for the same. Our customers are the heart and soul of our enterprise and with your participation and support we have managed to fly as many as 2.6 million passengers in 2014-2015 and 2.8 million passengers between 2015 and 2016 alone.
Air India Express was launched with a vision to provide convenient connectivity flying predominantly on short-haul international routes in the Gulf and South East Asia at affordable prices, unlike the other Low Cost Carriers (LCC) in India and we aim at providing non-stop, no frills service to our customers. Our goal has been quality rather than quantity, and in the years since taking those first small steps onto the international travel scene, Air India Express has evolved into a globally recognized airline known for our commitment to high standards of quality in every aspect of our business while also making sure that are services are low cost.
As a matter of policy, AIE offers the most competitive fares in the market and is the only airline operating on the LCC model, to offer free meals to our passengers, as well as complimentary tea and coffee on board. Like our full-service counterparts, we also provide our esteemed customers appropriate meals, transportation, re-imbursement and hotel accommodation, in the event of prolonged delays or disruptions of our flights. Our focus has presently been on operations from Tier II cities in India, to the Middle East and South East Asia.
We are also one of only two carriers that are willing to fly passengers on stretchers and accept human remains for carriage on their aircraft. On the services from the Middle East to India, human remains are carried free of charge as gesture of the airline’s compassion.
We look forward to a bright future in which we carry many millions more across a growing network of international destinations.