Monday, December 7, 2015

December 2015: New flights raining at Indian airports

by Soumen Mukherjee
Air India Boeing 777-200LR
It is December and new flights are raining at airports across India. Typically airlines commence new flight services around the beginning of summer and winter season which start from last Sunday of March and last Sunday of October respectively. But there is a whole lot of new flights starting in December this time. Obviously it signals good times of Indian aviation as it continues to grow at double-digit and became the fastest growing major aviation market in the world. Although the growth is primarily led by foreign carriers which are either starting new routes, increasing frequencies on existing routes or upgrading the present capacity with change in aircraft. But it is the national carrier Air India which had captured maximum headlines with  its launch of Delhi-San Francisco (DEL-SFO) non-stop flight on Dec. 2; 
Air India, the national carrier has introduced San Francisco as its 4th US gateway on Dec. 2; Air India will fly the sector 3x weekly using its Boeing 777-200LR aircraft. It is the only non-stop flight available between India and US west coast. The flight is appearing to become popular among large non-residential Indian population living there but it will take more time to assess its real impact. In fact its inaugural flight on DEL-SFO route flew with full-load, a remarkable achievement given the poor financial performance of its international operations. The national carrier has also introduced new frequency on the Delhi-Guwajati (DEL-GAU) sector with a 4x weekly (-2-4-6 7) morning flight from Dec. 1; It also commences the first Airbus A319 service on Kolkata-Durgapur-Delhi (CCU-RDP-DEL) route on Dec. 7; the flight will operate 3x weekly. Earlier Air India Regional was the only carrier on the CCU-RDP sector flying an ATR-42 aircraft 6x weekly. The Air India Regional service will also continue as of now. One of the new feature observed that Air India has stopped providing meals on shorter duration flights. Both DEL-GAU & DEL-RDP-CCU flights have no meal services included in the ticket. However, it is not clear whether there will be meals available to purchase on-board like most low-cost carriers in India.
  • DEL-SFO 3x weekly from Dec. 2
  • DEL-GAU from daily to 11x weekly from Dec. 1
  • DEL-RDP 3x weekly from Dec. 7
  • CCU-RDP 3x weekly from Dec. 7
Vistara, countries latest full-service carrier, has recently inducted its 9th Airbus A320-232(wl) (VT-TTJ) aircraft in its fleet and it will increase frequencies on key routes from mid-December. It will add 2 more flights on the busy Delhi-Mumbai (DEL-BOM) sector from Dec. 15 taking the number of its daily flights on the route from current 6 to 8 (on weekdays), a total of 53 weekly flights one way. Vistara will also add an additional frequency on the Delhi-Goa (DEL-GOI) route from Dec. 18 which will operate 4 days in a week (1- - -5 6 7), taking the frequency on the route from daily to 11x weekly. In the recent months, the carrier shows signals of improving its operational statistics as in October it had crossed the 1 Lakh monthly passengers mark for the first time and also achieved 67% passenger load factor, an increase of 5% over what it had reported in September.
  • DEL-BOM from 6x daily to 8x daily Dec. 15 (on weekdays)
  • DEL-GOI from daily to 11x weekly from Dec. 18
SpiceJet, countries second largest low-cost carrier, will further expand its international operations. From Dec. 10 it will introduce a 6x weekly Chennai-Bangkok (MAA-BKK) flight service using its Boeing 737 Next Generation fleet. It will be the SpiceJet's second route to Bangkok from India, currently it already serves Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi from Kolkata. 
  • MAA-BKK 6x weekly from Dec. 10
TruJet, the Hyderabad based regional carrier has further revamped its network and increased frequencies on key routes from Dec. 6; The airline also launched new route to Goa on the same day, TruJet which focuses heavily on religious (pilgrim) tourists on popular temple sectors, became the first regional carrier to arrive in Goa, popular leisure destination. The airline has doubled the frequency on Hyderabad -Chennai (HYD-MAA) route from Dec. 6; The Hyderabad-Goa (HYD-GOI) flight will operate daily once.
  • HYD-MAA from daily to 2x daily from Dec. 6
  • HYD-GOI daily from Dec. 6
IndiGo, countries largest carrier by passenger carried, though has not yet commenced any new flights in December so far. But it is known that IndiGo will launch an early morning Bangalore-Kolkata flight via Bhubaneswar (BLR-BBI-CCU) on Jan. 1, 2016 but it has not yet opened the booking of the flights till the time of writing this article. IndiGo is scheduled to start receiving the latest Airbus A320NEO (manufacturer designation: A320-271N) by the end of this month, it has 430 of such aircraft on order. Apart from the new aircraft, it will soon dry-lease a 11 years old Airbus A320 aircraft (MSN: 2275), most likely to be registered as VT-IDO. Therefore significant numbers of new flights are expected in the coming weeks from IndiGo.

Oman Air, the gulf carrier has increased its India capacity from early December. After the recent liberalization of the bilateral air services agreement between Indian and Oman, the weekly seats entitlements has risen to 21,149 from 16,018 earlier. And Oman Air utilizing the full benefit of the additional seats entitlements has increased frequencies on key Indian routes. It has doubled the frequency on the Bangalore-Muscat (BLR-MCT) and Kochi-Muscat (COK-MCT) sectors from daily to 2x daily both from Dec. 1; Also the Lucknow-Muscat (LKO-MCT) frequency has been increased from daily to 11x weekly from Dec 2; Goa-Muscat (GOI-MCT) from 6x weekly to daily from Dec. 2 and finally the Jaipur-Muscat (JAI-MCT) frequncy has been increased from daily to 10x weekly effective from Dec. 3; Although Air India is expected to launch additional flights on India-Oman sector, so far no Indian carrier have announced any plan to add capacity on the Oman secotr.
  • BLR-MCT from daily to 2x daily from Dec. 1
  • COK-MCT from daily to 2x daily from Dec. 1
  • JAI-MCT from daily to 10x weekly from Dec. 3
  • LKO-MCT from daily to 11x weekly from Dec. 2
  • GOI-MCT from 6x weekly to daily from Dec. 2
Tigerair, the Singapore based low-cost carrier, has made it to North India with its maiden flight to Lucknow on Dec. 3; The Lucknow-Singapore (LKO-SIN) flight will be operated 3x weekly using its Airbus A320-232 fleet (180 seats). Lucknow became the 6th Indian destinations of Tigerair as it already operates flights to Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi and Trichy, all in South India.

  • LKO-SIN 3x weekly from Dec. 3
Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 Dream)Liner
Qatar Airways, the middle-eastern carrier had returned to Nagpur after almost 6.5 years, making it the 13th Indian destinations. It has introduced daily flights on Nagpur-Doha (NAG-DOH) route from Dec. 1, the flight will be operated using its Airbus A320 fleet. On the same day the the gulf carrier made the Kolkata capacity almost double. As it has deployed a Boeing 787-8 Dream)Liner aircraft (254 seats) on Kolkata-Doha (CCU-DOH) sector replacing the existing Airbus A320 service (144 seats).
  • NAG-DOH daily from Dec. 1
  • CCU-DOH from Airbus A320 to Boeing 787-8 from Dec. 1
Gulf Air, the Bahrain based carrier, has marginally increased its India capacity. From Dec. 2 it has started flying the Hyderabad-Bahrain (HYD-BAH) route daily, earlier it used to fly only 5x weekly using its Airbus A321 fleet.
  • HYD-BAH from 5x weekly to daily from Dec. 2
Kuwait Airways, the gulf carrier has increased its Mumbai capacity as it has started flying its Boeing 747-400 on the Mumbai-Kuwait (BOM-KWI) route from Dec. 2; It used to fly Boeing 777-200ER on the same route.
  • BOM-KWI from Boeing 777-200ER to Boeing 747-400 from Dec. 2


All the routes shown here are operated in both directions.

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