In the last twenty years of the Indian aviation industry, the international travel market has seen a six-fold growth which has propelled the international companies like Air Italy, United and NokScoot to explore the Indian territories. Further, airlines like JetAirways and IndiGo have also ventured out of Delhi and Mumbai to form new routes between countries and Indian airports.
Air Italy, NokScoot and United Extend Routes in India
As per a Financial Express report, Air Italy, which is jointly owned by Doha based Qatar Airways, also started three weekly flights which depart from New Delhi and Mumbai to Milan. These flights are effective from December 7 and December 14, respectively. During the launch of these two new routes, Air Italy’s Chief Operating Officer Rossen Dimitrov had remarked, “The launch of our India-Italy sector represents another major step forward for Air Italy and reinforces our commitment to our network expansion plans in Asia,”. The executive also spoke about the opportunities that the Indian market presents. He also added that Air Italy would be keen to explore routes that connect to airports other than Delhi and Mumbai. To work towards that goal, the airline has also hinted towards an interline agreement with full-service carrier Vistara.
Another low-cost airline, NokScoot, which is a joint venture between Singapore’s Scoot and Thailand's Nok Air, has also started non-stop service between New Delhi and Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport from December 19. The airline had said that these routes would facilitate both business and leisure travellers. NokScoot’s deputy CEO Giam Ming Toh 2019 further added that the airline plans to add more Indian airports to its existing network in the first half of 2019 itself.
On the same lines, USA-based United Airlines, also announced the commencement of operations of its seasonal flight from New Delhi to San Francisco, which would first take off on December 7, 2019. By this new flight, United Airlines’ non-stop flight count from Delhi would stand at three. Right now, United’s network is between New Delhi and Mumbai to New York. During the launch of this new route, Harvinder Singh, United’s country manager India said, “This new flight strengthens our international route network and provides our customers from India with even greater travel choice, with connections from San Francisco to other destinations across the US and Canada.”
Other Airports Besides Mumbai and Delhi to Witness International Connectivity
The executive added that this flight, which connects India to the US will serve well, both for business and leisure travellers. In the expansion of routes through Delhi and Mumbai, the other airports are also seeing a growth in their international connectivity as well.
Dubai-based flydubai has also launched a new flight which would operate thrice-a-week between Kozhikode and Dubai starting February 1, 2019. Also, Lufthansa, the German national carrier, had put a hold on its flight from Pune to Frankfurt. However, now the carrier has resumed the route from November. Courtesy of Jet Airways, Pune has also been directly connected to Singapore with a new non-stop flight starting from December 1. On the same lines, Jet, also started a five-days-a-week direct flight between Mumbai and Manchester. GoAir and IndiGo, the two major budget carriers in India have also joined Mumbai and Delhi with Phuket. There is also the Bengaluru-Hong Kong route on which IndiGo has commenced its services.
With this increase in the routes and increasing prominence of tier 2 cities and airports, there are some routes which are being withdrawn by the airlines too. These include the Belgium-based Brussels Airlines operated Mumbai route, which will be discontinued in January. Icelandic ultra-low-cost carrier Wow Air, which has also been cash-strained recently will put a hold on its service from Delhi to Reykjavic in January barely two months after the launch.
It is worth noting that during the 2017-18 period, India’s international air traffic witnessed 10% year-on-year growth, and a large chunk of this traffic was constituted by some of the busiest routes across the world. According to a report published by the British aviation intelligence firm OAG earlier this year, the busiest international route in the world which is Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, India was not far behind, as the routes between Delhi and Tiruchirappalli were the fourth and fifth most voluminous destinations for transit passengers.