IndiGo to make Kerala gateway to West Asia

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Dec 25 2010, 04:22am hrs
IndiGo Airlines is launching international services, including the Gulf sector, by September 2011. In the run-up to the international debut, the Gurgaon-based airline has opened operations from two Kerala airports, which could be the gateway to the West Asian market.

West Asias market would be the driving force in our international operations, said Aditya Ghosh, president, IndiGo. Asked if the price-war, unleased in domestic segments will continue in international skies also, Ghosh told FE that he expected the air fares in Kerala-Gulf segment to fall within an year, once IndiGo Air was in operations. Despite a to-and-froing expat community in Gulf to the tune of 18-20 million from Kerala, the average air fare (economy class) from Kerala to West Asian countries are around Rs 14,000. Hospitality industry in the state pins hopes on the domestic price war. With IndiGo launching services from Thiruvananthapuram to other metros at less than one-tenth of the present air passenger cost, there is bound to be pressure on other carriers to bring down fares in domestic segment, said travel operator and tourism products vendor Jaya Chandrahasan. For example, the Thiruvananthapuram-New Delhi economy class airfare is as high as Rs 49,000. For the same sector, from January 2011, Indigo is launching services at Rs 4,281. In Kochi- New Delhi, another exorbitantly priced sector, the lowcost carrier has offered flights at Rs 3,682. There has been instances when Taj Mahal-headed foreign tourist skipped a tour to Kerala, checking out the high air fare. They would say, it could fetch them a trip to another country, said Tomy Pulikattil, houseboat operator.

Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Jeddah are key destinations IndiGo has shortlisted among the 15 preferred sectors.