After almost two years after it commenced international flights, low fare carrier SpiceJet is expanding its destination portfolio by adding Dubai.
The airline will commence daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Dubai later this month from June 25th. The flights will be operated by narrow body Boeing 737-800 aircraft and SpiceJet has announced a special inaugural fare of Rs. 4,777 excluding taxes.
SpiceJet made its international debut with the launch of its first international flight from New Delhi to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, on October 7, 2010 and soon followed with flights from Chennai to the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, on October 9, 2010.
The Dubai route will be operated by one aircraft, and thanks to an intelligent schedule, will afford the airline a high utilisation time.
SG011 departs Delhi 11:55, arrives Dubai 13:45.
SG014 departs Dubai 14:45, arrives Mumbai 19:15.
SG013 departs Mumbai 20:30, arrives Dubai 21:55.
SG012 departs Dubai 23:10, arrives Delhi 04:05 the next morning.
SpiceJet indicates it has received all the required regulatory/government approvals from concerned authorities in India as well as from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to launch its services and has put tickets on sale via its website.
SpiceJet benefits from government policy
As the Tier I domestic market began to saturate, domestic carriers started looking to fly overseas. International flights allowed for increased aircraft utilisation as most of them were overnight when domestic demand was low. India’s notoriously high fuel prices are cheaper for international flights, and overseas prices are even lower.
However, the Indian government, in a myopic policy to protect ailing national carrier Air India, gave permissions to private domestic carriers very sparingly.
While low fare competitor IndiGo continued on an all jet fleet expansion and focussed on international flights and taking market share from Kingfisher Airlines, for the last year, SpiceJet focussed on the domestic market.
The airline acquired seven new Bombardier Q400 turbo-props for increase connectivity to Tier II and Tier III cities which do not have runways long enough to support jet aircraft. The airline currently operates Q400’s to Aurangabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Calicut, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Indore, Kochi, Madurai, Mangalore, Rajahmundry, Tirupati, Trichy, Trivandrum, Tuticorin, Vijayawada, and Vizag, and is committed to increase its fleet to 15 Q400s by this year end.
SpiceJet is now benefitting by the recent broadening of thinking at the ministry of civil aviation which has relaxed the policy of over-protecting Air India, and opened up international routes to all Indian carriers, since Air India was unable to utilise all the available bi-lateral capacities, and foreign carriers, especially Emirates airline, have begun to dominate the Indian foreign travel market.
SpiceJet Chief Executive Officer Neil Mills said
“The Government of India has taken substantial and positive steps to open the market and allowing private carriers to connect with new international destinations. To leverage the opportunity and offer quality services at affordable price to our guests, we are pleased to announce the launch of flights to Dubai with more exciting destinations coming soon.”
For now SpiceJet has a strong domestic Tier II and Tier III city network free from significant competition, and is can benefit from expansion on the international side as well.
Yet, while Dubai is the most popular destination from India, it is also the most competitive. All carriers who have operational permissions, Emirates, flyDubai and Air Arabia (from the Emirates), Air India, Air India Express, and IndiGo (from India), operate flights.
It will be interesting to see how SpiceJet fares on this highly competitive, yet highly lucrative route.