Air India is on a roll for international expansion after a long time. That is what a low oil price and access to the new long & thin route enabler the Boeing 787 Dreamliner can do. Last year, they launched a 3x flight to San Francisco, which will go 6x shortly. This year, they launched a flight from Ahmedabad to London & Newark, utilizing a long standing fifth freedom route on the London-Newark route. Before that, they launched a 3x flight from Delhi to Vienna. They still intend to start a flight to Washington DC from Delhi.
Spain was always on the table for them as well, and the back and forth was always between going to Barcelona or going to Madrid. It seems Air India has finally made a decision, and they will launch flights to Madrid in the winter of 2016. While the route has not been loaded on systems, as per RoutesOnline, the airline has already filed for the route to be commencing as of December 1, 2016.
The 3 times a week flight is expected to have the following timings:
AI135 DEL1425 – 2020MAD 788 246
AI136 MAD2150 – 1110+1DEL 788 246
The route fits in pretty well with the Vienna flight which is also 3 times a week, and allows for Air India to serve two cities in Europe within a week.
With this, Air India will have 787 flights to quite some places around the world including London, Madrid, Frankfurt, Vienna, Newark & Singapore.
I think this is a great strategy from Air India, just as a true network carrier would do, to operate flights from India to various places around the globe and get the non-stop premium in the bag as well. Now only if they could fix their long haul planes and make the experience being on Air India, I could stop being circumspect about them and be a regular customer.