Low-cost carriers expected to boost India-Gulf air traffic

Mumbai, March 28 | Updated: Mar 30 2005, 05:30am hrs
After the entry of low-cost carriers like Air Arabia and Air India Express, the traffic on the India-Gulf sector is expected to grow sustantially. Industry players opine that this increase could be as high as 30%.

According to Air Arabia chief executiver office Adel Ali, there will be about a 30% increase in the number of people travelling to the Gulf from India this year. Industry observers point out that Air-India, which owns the budget carrier Air-India Express, will also see a good growth in the number of people travelling by air to the Gulf. Besides, the number of people travelling for the first time to the Gulf will also register a sharp growth, said an industry source.

Air-India CMD V Thulasidas said: Depending upon the large number of travellers from India to the Gulf, we would be able to cater to the demand very effectively. Initially, it might take some time for us to get ready, but the process will be done after our fleet size is expanded. Meanwhile, after launching a direct flight from Mumbai to Sharjah a couple of days ago, Air Arabia is looking forward to operating flights from Delhi and a few destinations in South India subject to government approval.

We are looking forward to operating flights from Delhi and Kerala apart from a a few other destinations in South India. A large chunk of the travellers to Gulf are from South India, said Mr Ali. Meanwhile, Air-India Express, which is expected to start operations from April, has already bagged the permission to operate to four destinations namely Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Muscat.

Interestingly, a fare war to the Gulf has already commenced. While Air Arabia offers a one-way trip to Sharjah for Rs 2,999, Air-India Express offers a Delhi-Abu Dhabi trip at a price of Rs 2,750. Apart from Sharjah, Air Arabia also operates to other destinations in the Gulf such as Bahrain, Doha, Kuwait, Muscat and others. Commenting on the possible competition from Air-India Express Mr Ali said, The future for low-cost carriers looks good in India and I think these is still space for other players to enter this segment.