Passage to India

Read the forum code of contact

Member for

17 years 7 months

Posts: 12,842

The Australian

Qantas is just one of many international carriers making a beeline for India. The Australian flag carrier recently confirmed India was a key market because of stronger trade links and increasing numbers of tourists and businesspeople travelling between the two countries.
Australia is also on the map for India's expanding airlines.

Indian Airlines, prior to its recent merger with Air India, announced plans to launch a thrice-weekly Delhi-Singapore-Melbourne service in October. About 100,000 people of Indian origin live in NSW, 80,000 in Victoria and 30,000 in Queensland.

Indian Airlines, previously the government-owned domestic carrier, has now merged with its international counterpart, Air India.

For India, which until the mid-1990s operated Air India to Perth and Sydney, the service heralds a new era in operations between the two countries, particularly as the flag carrier starts taking delivery of a new fleet of Boeing 787s.

Australian airports are courting India's airlines, including Jet Airways, which has a strong domestic network and is expanding internationally.

Qantas last month expanded its codeshare agreement with Jet Airways, covering services from major Australian cities to Singapore, connecting to Jet Airways's services to India.

The codeshare complements Qantas's existing service between Sydney and Mumbai and could strengthen the Oneworld alliance's pitch for Jet Airways to join the group.

India is one of the remaining holes in the networks of the global alliances.

The Star Alliance aims to have a partner in India by the end of 2007 and is courting Air India, which has close links to Star Alliance members.

The SkyTeam Alliance is also active in India. Another US-based SkyTeam member, Continental Airlines, plans to codeshare with fast-growing Kingfisher Airlines, which has 45 widebody aircraft on order including five double-decker Airbus A380s. Kingfisher hopes to go international in early 2008.

India's airports handled a record 25.8 million international passengers in the 12 months ended March 31, up 15.1per cent on the same period a year earlier, driven by sustained economic growth and the Indian Government's policy of liberalising market access.

The airport sector is humming, too. Mumbai was the busiest international airport, handling 7.3 million international passengers (up 9.2 per cent from 2006), followed by Delhi (6.7 million, up 15.4 per cent) and Chennai (2.9 million, up 11.1 per cent). Bangalore led the growth for rapidly expanding secondary cities, surging through the 1 million international passenger barrier for the first time with a 46.2 per cent increase in traffic in 2006-07.

Hyderabad also reported better than average growth of 21.3 per cent, while Trivandrum, Calicut, Amritsar and Kochi are building volumes at more than 15 per cent. Growth is coming mainly from short-haul international markets.

Several of the smaller cities are targets for future expansion by foreign low-cost carriers, including Thailand's Nok Air. Singapore's Tiger Airways will add India to its map from October, giving outbound travellers from Melbourne another alternative for flying to India, combining the LCC's cheap fares via Darwin and Singapore.

You won't get there on Jetstar for the time being at least - the Singapore arm of the low-cost carrier did try operating to Bangalore and Kolkata, but soon withdrew when traffic didn't materialise.

In addition, LCC long-haul startup AirAsiaX, which is starting services from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, recently announced it was considering operating services between Malaysia and Kolkata, Kochi and Amritsar from the second half of 2008.

Chief executive Tony Fernandes says: "India is very sexy, there are more than 100 destinations - it is a phenomenal market".

Expanding trade links with Gulf countries are driving a surge in capacity by Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates, while India's bilateral air services agreement with Kuwait will open the door for more services by Kuwait Airways and Jazeera Airways.

UAE-based Air Arabia is adding two flights weekly to its daily service between Sharjah and Mumbai for the summer, from June 22 to September 15.

Emirates last month confirmed plans to launch Dubai-Ahmedabad services in October, and plans to increase service frequencies from Dubai to Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi before the end of October for a total of 85 passenger services weekly to eight Indian gateways - the second largest number for an international carrier, behind Sri Lankan Airlines (of which Emirates owns 43 per cent) with about 100 services to India weekly.

Oman Air launched a Muscat-Jaipur service in June, and said it had made progress in negotiations with the Indian Government for new routes to India. Jaipur is the carrier's eighth Indian destination.

Qatar Airways, meanwhile, has also signed a breakthrough codeshare agreement with United Airlines covering various routes, including Doha to Colombo and Peshawar - a list that could include more Indian subcontinent destinations in future.

Qatar Airways is improving the timing of its services to India to finesse connections to its European and North American departures. Qatar currently operates daily services from six Indian cities.

Several European carriers are also boosting services to India, following the expansion of bilateral air services agreements. These services will gradually make India a useful stopover for Australians heading to Europe.

At present, Qantas extends its British Airways partnership to London over Mumbai, but this is hardly in the league of Singapore as a through-transfer point.

Air France announced plans to use the A380 aircraft on services between Paris and Delhi or Mumbai by early 2009. Air France-KLM currently operates 42 weekly flights from the major Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai.

Air France has also announced plans to launch Kolkata services in 2008, and by December this year to add two additional services from Hyderabad and Chennai.

Swiss announced plans to launch services to Delhi effective November 25, using A330 aircraft. Delhi will be the carrier's second Indian destination after Mumbai, while Finnair launched a five times weekly Helsinki-Mumbai service on June 27, using A340 equipment, as part of its Asian expansion strategy.

Singapore Airlines is still the best way to access a range of Indian cities. The carrier launched an eighth weekly Singapore-Chennai service on June 24, using B777-200 equipment, and currently operates to eight destinations in India, including twice-daily services to Mumbai, daily services to Delhi, four times weekly to Kolkata and Hyderabad, and three times weekly to both Ahmedabad and Amritsar.

SIA unit SilkAir additionally operates to Kochi and Thiruvananthapurum in southern India.

With all this expansion, double-digit growth in international traffic is a near certainty for India's airports for the foreseeable future, although capacity constraints at Mumbai and Delhi will slow their rates and push traffic to the smaller gateways.

India is a very attractive growth market and, for passengers, the fare outlook should be good. For airlines, as Jetstar learned, the yield side of the equation can be difficult.

Derek Sadubin is chief operating officer of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation.

Original post
Profile picture for user KabirT

Member for

20 years 10 months

Posts: 7,536

well.. India is shining indeed. :D