The Indian budget carrier IndiGo may also enter into a codesharing deal with one of the Middle East-based airlines as part of its ambitious plan to grow its international operations
IndiGo, India’s largest airline by marketshare, has drawn up plans to launch new and additional flights to the Middle East, mainly to UAE and Saudi Arabia, during the forthcoming winter schedule.
The Indian budget carrier may also enter into a codesharing deal with one of the Middle East-based airlines as part of its ambitious plan to grow its international operations, a senior executive of the airline said.
“The Middle East sector is a focus sector for us for our international operations. We are currently the second largest carrier from India operating in this sector in terms of seat capacities and frequency. We have plans to launch several new and additional flights in this sector in the coming months,” Willy Boulter, chief commercial officer of IndiGo, told Arabian Business.
Boulter, however, declined to reveal the details of the new flight launches because of commercial reasons.
“About 65 percent of our international operations are to the Middle East sector. As we focus on growing our international operations in the coming months, we will be adding many more flights in this sector (Middle East),” Boulter said.
Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Dammam are among the Gulf destinations IndiGo is considering for new or additional flights in the immediate future, according to airline sources.
IndiGo announced launch of direct flights to Dammam from Mumbai from mid of July, but hasn't been able to start operations due to regulatory approval issues.
IndiGo had earlier said that 50 percent of its expansion in 2019 will be from international growth. Currently, international services account for 25 percent of the carrier’s overall operations.
IndiGo, along with other Indian carriers who fly internationally, got a bonus in June this year by way of allotment of additional flying slots and seat capacities in the Gulf - and some other international destinations - from the quota of the grounded Jet Airways.
The additional flying slots, allotted by India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), are valid until end December this year, but are expected to be extended further with little hope of revival for Jet Airways, according to industry sources.
Boulter said IndiGo will also look at launching new flights to Middle East from some of the Tier 2 and Tier 2 Indian cities other than the metros.
“Bhuwaneshwar, Indore and Surat are among the some of the city airports which have approached us [to launch services from there]. We are looking at these,” said Boulter, who is familiar with the Middle East sector because of his earlier stint with Etihad Airways.
IndiGo currently operates to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Doha and Kuwait from multiple cities in India.
As for plans for new codesharing agreements, Boulter said: “We are an attractive partner to a number of international airlines and in due course we will announce some more code-sharing deals."
IndiGo has a codesharing agreement with Turkish Airlines which, Boutler said, was working very successfully with both airlines benefitting in a big way in terms of getting additional bookings.
IndiGo will be launching an additional frequency to Istanbul from Thursday to cater to the growing demand arising from its alliance with the Turkish Airlines, Boulter said.