Tuesday, August 30, 2016

India-Italy air-connectivity & scope for fifth freedom flight

by Soumen Mukherjee
Though India-Italy relations are not at the best level in recent times. Still cultural and and commercial ties are strong between the Europe's fourth largest economy and the world's fastest growing major economy India. In fact Italy is home to the second largest Indian diaspora in Europe, after the UK with around 150,000 people of Indian-origin based there. At present, Air India and China Airlines (Taiwan) are the only two airlines to operate non-stop flights between the two countries. The later enjoys fifth-freedom traffic rights between India and Italy. Air India offers direct flights to both Rome and Milan from its Delhi hub while China Airlines operates Taipei-Delhi-Rome service. Air India which has returned to Italy market in 2014 almost after a decade, initially used to operate Delhi-Rome-Milan-Delhi triangular service on four days and on the other direction on three days. Later, it had split the triangular service to three weekly Delhi-Rome terminating service and four weekly Delhi-Milan-Delhi in the winter 2015-16 schedule. The India-Italy non-stop capacity to go down from December 2016 with China Airlines withdrawing from the Delhi-Rome sector, therefore opening up opportunities for more non-stop service in the already under-served India-Italy market. Another long-haul carrier from Taiwan, EVA Air is coming to Delhi in late 2016 or early 2017, it also has plans to fly Barcelona and Milan in Europe. It would be interesting to see whether the Taiwanese carrier flies to these European destinations from Delhi exercising the fifth freedom  rights.




Delhi-Rome
In 2015, a total of 83,015 passengers (two-way) traveled non-stop between Delhi and Rome Fiumicino airport on the overall five weekly service of Air India (3 weekly) and China Airlines (2 weekly), though the service pattern and frequency kept on changing throughout the year. Currently, Air India operates three weekly Boeing 787-8 service on Delhi-Rome sector while China Airlines flies two-weekly Taipei-Delhi-Rome service on board its 307 seater (J 30, Y 277) Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Starting December 2016, China Airlines to start flying non-stop to Rome Fumicino from its home base Taipei Taoyuan and dropping one-stop Rome flight via Delhi. The non-stop service is scheduled to be upgraded to its brand new long range Airbus A350-900 XWB from early 2017.
Therefore Delhi-Rome non-stop capacity to see a decline with sharp reduction of 714 weekly departing seats from December 2016. This can be compensated either by Air India increasing its Delhi-Rome frequency from current level or Jet Airways and Vistara (when attains 20 aircraft fleet) launching new Delhi-Rome service. However the Italian flag carrier, Alitalia (SkyTeam) is unlikely to launch Delhi flight anytime soon in favor of Etihad's Abu Dhabi hub, the later owns 49% stake in the former. Both Alitalia and Jet Airways are member of Etihad equity alliance. 

Delhi-Rome non-stop traffic:
Period
DEL-FCO pax
FCO-DEL pax
Total sector pax
Q1-2015
12,586
6,921
19,507
Q2-2015
12,892
7,599
20,491
Q3-2015
14,057
10,123
24,180
Q4-2015
8,887
9,950
18,837

Delhi-Rome non-stop schedule:

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Freq.
AI 123
Delhi: 14:15
Rome-Fiumicino: 19:05
3,5,7
CI: 71
Delhi: 13:40
Rome-Fiumicino: 18:35
2,6

AI 122
Rome-Fiumicino: 20:40
Delhi: 07:40+1
3,5,7
CI: 72
Rome-Fiumicino: 22:25
Delhi: 09:55+1
2,6

Delhi-Milan
Milan which had initially seen Air India's three weekly non-stop service from Delhi, currently enjoys a lead over Rome with four weekly non-stop flights to and from Delhi on Air India's Boeing 787-8. In 2015, a total of 59,581 passengers (two-way) traveled non-stop between Delhi and Milan. Meanwhile Air India is said to be considering an increase in Delhi-Milan frequency. Jet Airways had operated Delhi-Milan flight between December 2010 and February 2013 when global economic down turn and specially the Eurozone crisis forced it to drop the route. In the near future, there is a possibility of one more potential player operating the route. Both Delhi-Milan and Delhi-Rome flight loads can be significantly improved with feeds from Dhaka as a relatively large Bangladeshi diaspora in Italy generate a sizeable VFR traffic but Air India currently has no flight to Dhaka from its Delhi hub.

Delhi-Milan non-stop traffic:
Period
DEL-MXP pax
MXP-DEL pax

Total sector pax
Q1-2015
9,260
7,806
17,066
Q2-2015
6,710
6,400
13,110
Q3-2015
8,150
8,325
16,475
Q4-2015
4,815
8,115
12,930

Delhi-Milan non-stop schedule:
Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Freq.
AI 137
Delhi: 14:15
Milan-Malpensa: 19:30
1,2,4,6

AI 138
Milan-Malpensa: 21:00
Delhi: 08:25+1
1,2,4,6

Like China Airlines, the other Taiwanese long-haul carrier EVA Air too mostly operate one-stop flights to Europe. It flies to Amsterdam, London-Heathrow and Vienna via Bangakok-Suvarnabhumi airport. Paris and Istanbul are the only two non-stop destinations in Europe, though Istanbul service which was launched only in March this year is currently suspended till March 2017 following the coup attempt in Turkey. EVA Air is currently expanding its long-haul network with more brand new Boeing 777-300ER joining its fleet. At the start of 2016 EVA Air is known to have plans for Barcelona, Cebu, Chicago O'Hare, Delhi, Milan and Washington-Dulles. While Cebu service has already been started from 27 March 2016 the Chicago O'Hare service is scheduled to commence on 2 November 2016. That leaves Barcelona and Milan in Europe Washington in North America and Delhi in Asia to be added next. 
Since Taiwanese carriers enjoy fifth freedom traffic rights between India and Italy therefore EVA Air can potentially launch Taipei-Delhi-Milan flight, specially after China Airlines vacating the market. Perhaps a Taipei-Delhi-Barcelona can also be on the cards as Barcelona, Delhi and Milan all are EVA Air's prospective destinations. For the record, Barcelona is one of the largest unserved European market for Delhi with no airline operating on the sector currently. Although it couldn't be verified whether India would allow EVA Air to carry passengers solely between India and Spain. Air India is expected to launch Delhi-Madrid flight in December 2016 and there are some rumors of it mulling a Delhi-Madrid-Barcelona triangular flight. Although after failure of triangular flights in Australia and Italy earlier Air India is unlikely to go for such in Spain. Barcelona airport is all set to lose non-stop Singapore flight from October 2016 which is the airport's only Asian link. Therefore a non-stop Barcelona-Delhi flight likely to be successful with convenient connections to Southeast Asia on both directions.

Delhi-Taipei
Meanwhile under the current dispensation, Delhi is warming up ties to countries (read territories) in China's periphery. India and Taiwan shares close official relations without any formal embassies in each others capital. Commercial linkages are on the rise specially with Taiwanese multinationals like Foxconn mulling large scale investment in India. In 2015, a total of 38,775 passengers (two-way) traveled on China Airlines's (SkyTeam) non-stop service between Delhi and Taipei Taoyuan. And EVA Air's (Star Alliance) arrival to Delhi is a positive development for expansion of India-Taiwan market. It will also help Star Alliance to further consolidate its lead at Delhi airport, at present 12 out of 27 Star members are operating out of Delhi. In April 2016, Delhi airport had lost one Star member Austrian Airlines while it is scheduled to gain one SkyTeam member Korean Air from December 2016.  
From 2 December 2016, China Airlines will cease flights CI 71/CI 72 on the Taipei-Delhi-Rome and vv route while it will increase the frequency of Delhi-Taipei terminating service CI 181/ CI 182 to three weekly.

Delhi-Taipei non-stop traffic:
Period
DEL-TPE pax
TPE-DEL pax
Total sector pax
Q1-2015
6,650
2,595
9,245
Q2-2015
7,417
1,288
8,705
Q3-2015
7,804
1,472
9,276
Q4-2015
6,691
4,858
11,549

Delhi-Taipei non-stop schedule:
Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Freq.
CI 72
Delhi: 11:25
Taipei-Taoyuan: 20:30
2,6
CI 182
Delhi: 13:35
Taipei-Taoyuan: 22:25
4

CI 71
Taipei-Taoyuan: 08:15
Delhi: 12:25
3,7
CI 181
Taipei-Taoyuan: 07:55
Delhi: 11:35
4

6 comments:

  1. Nice article on the Italy routes. AI seem to have more pax on these routes than the Australia routes. Jet Airways used to operate to Milan during Dec,2010 to Jan 2013 . May be they wouldn't try again that soon. DEL- Dhaka - DEL is a great connector to Europe traffic for AI just like Colombo and Bangkok. You know AI schedule makers, they just do not want to compete with ME carriers or SIA in anyway in spite of their low fares. LOT Polish airlines has lot of potential among Star Alliance carriers at DEL. But they are currently short of aircraft.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean LOT will start flights to Delhi once they get more B787s?

      Delete
    2. In mid-2015, LOT Polish Airlines planned to launch Warsaw-Delhi flight on its Boeing 787-8 but later chose Tokyo as Asian gateway in 2016. It may still come to Delhi once its fleet strength increases.

      Delete
    3. They will receive two more B787s, one in Nov 2016 and the other one in May 2017, then we may see LOT in DEL.

      Delete
  2. Interesting to know that AI doesn't have a single DEL-DAC flight.

    Brilliantly researched article as always !

    ReplyDelete
  3. Informative blog.
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