Indian Airlines Increasing Flights Despite Growing Fuel Prices

Wednesday, 30th March 2011 at 04:37am

Indian Airlines are increasing the number of flights this summer at the fastest rate since 2007, despite the surge in global crude oil prices.

The domestic passenger market in Indian is reported to have grown by 18% last year and has continued to significantly expand at the start of 2011. This has allowed airlines to bet on the forthcoming peak season despite the higher fuel prices.

Weekly flights are expected to increase by 14% this summer, with 12,700 departures every week from March to October.

The country's largest low-cost airline, IndiGo, is planning to add seven aircraft to its current fleet of 38. Flights would then increase from 247 to 272 daily in the summer.

SpiceJet plans to add 11 aircraft to its fleet of 25 between now and October - five Boeing 737s and six short-haul Q400s. Its daily flights will climb from 167 in the winter to 204 in summer.

"And we are not even talking about the Q400s," said its chief commercial officer Samyukth Sridharan. The Q400s are scheduled to launch the airlines regional operations. Each Q400 can do nine flights a day."

Air India is increasing its daily domestic flights from 320 to 348-50, with new flights to Kulu. They are also re-introducing the afternoon flight between Bangalore and Delhi and the mid-morning flight between Hyderabad and Delhi in its summer schedule.

"This is because of growing traffic and to improve connectivity," said an Air India spokesman.

Jet Airways (India) Ltd said it will develop Hyderabad into a "mini hub". This will start with the introduction of 15 new flights from 27 March, connecting Jaipur, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar and Nagpur.

IN a statement by the airline this month: "Jet Airways has decided to connect more destinations in central and northern India with its fleet of Boeing 737 and ATR 72 aircraft, thereby providing a same day connection with the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata."

Domestic airlines are also planning on increasing their international flights.

Air India said it will launch its maiden Delhi-Melbourne flight besides a Chennai-Paris one, and increase frequencies to London and Toronto. It will also restart the Chennai-Colombo flight. SpiceJet will add Maldives to its network and a second daily flight to Kathmandu and Colombo.

Discussing how developed markets behave differently, President, of US based aviation consulting firm The Arvai Group Inc, Ernest S. Arvai is reported to have said: "Several US and European carriers are cutting services to Japan, due to the lack of traffic in one direction. Flights are full coming out, with only rescue folks going in. Tourism is dead for now. It is not likely to recover until next year. Uncertainty is not a good thing for airlines. For now, service reduction to meet reduced demand is the norm."

Sridharan went on to agree that the cost of oil has gone on to become 50-60% of airlines cost - up from 30 - 40% since a big increase in December, yet strong growth in passenger volumes allows airlines "to have the ability to pass on increased fuel surcharges to passengers as we go along". He went on to say that an airline's plan for growth are meant for the long term and planned at least nine months in advance, which keeps the oil price fluctuations in mind. "We expect oil to cool off soon," he added.

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