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Tue 26 Jul 2011 09:20 AM

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No-frills airline IndiGo opens routes to Dubai

Low-cost airline also planning routes to Oman, Saudi Arabia, other emirates

No-frills airline IndiGo opens routes to Dubai
Indias low cost carrier IndiGo also plans routes to Saudi Arabia and Oman

India’s largest low cost airline IndiGo is to launch new
routes between two major Indian cities and the UAE later this year, the firm’s
president said.

Flights between Dubai and New Delhi and between Dubai and
Mumbai will offer cut-price fares to passengers travelling between the
subcontinent and UAE, said Aditya Ghosh.

The New Delhi-based airline is the second no-frills Indian
carrier after Air India Express to capitalise on the rising demand for flights
between the two countries, generated by the Gulf’s large expatriate population.

“We are starting with one flight a day for AED816 all-in
return, so all charges and taxes are included in that,” Aditya Ghosh, president
of the company told Arabian Business.

“We will look to triple [the number of flights] within the
next year or so. I think a lot more people will fly several times a year rather
than having to save up and only fly once a year. These are also major gateways
within India so from there will also be people connecting to other cities.”

The service to New Delhi will launch on September 1, while
the Mumbai route will begin operations on October 1.

To cater for those travelling South, IndiGo will also
connect Dubai with Southern India states Cochin and Trivandrum between November
and January next year, Ghosh said.

The budget carrier, which has a fleet of 42 aircraft and a further
180 Airbus-320 on order, plans to launch flights to the Oman capital, Muscat,
in October.

The airline is also eyeing opportunities to launch routes
between India’s major cities and other emirates, and to the Gulf’s largest
state, Saudi Arabia.

“It depends where the market is developing, we are just
going to keep our options open. It will be next year,” said Ghosh. “We might
also open up Jeddah in the next 10 to 12 months.”

The UAE has been a magnet for
expatriate Indian workers since the oil boom in the 1970s, which saw the first inflow
of labourers keen to capitalise on the region’s economic growth.

An estimated 1.5 million Indians
live and work in the UAE, comprising some 42.5 percent of the Gulf state’s
labour force.

“The unique thing about this population is that a lot of
them are blue collar workers, who travel back and forth to India several times
a year to see family,” Ghosh said. “So there is obviously demand for air
travel, but there is a gap in the market [for flights to the North].”

Nielsen India Outbound Monitor said in February that Dubai was the third most
visited destination among Indian leisure travellers.

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