Jet Airways loses overseas flying rights; Indigo, SpiceJet bag most routes

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Updated: May 18, 2019 7:32 AM

IndiGo and SpiceJet bag most of the bilateral flying routes the carrier had.

Jet was the largest scheduled operator in India accounting for 13.8% market share in international operations during FY18. Jet was the largest scheduled operator in India accounting for 13.8% market share in international operations during FY18.

In yet another blow to any hopes of revival of Jet Airways, the ministry of civil aviation has re-allocated its international flying rights on some of the routes to other carriers.

Budget carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet have bagged most of these bilateral flying rights, sources aware of the development told FE.

In a meeting with top executives of various airlines on Friday, the ministry approved the various requests by domestic carriers seeking bilateral flying rights to cities like Dubai, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Dhaka, Kathmandu and Abu Dhabi, where Jet had a significant capacity deployed.

Civil aviation secretary Pradeep Kharola said that allocation follows the requests by various airlines for international rights, including few new routes.

“The airlines had reque-sted for international rights of Jet Airways. Today, they confirmed their requirements and we have logged in their requests. This will be for an interim period and Jet can reclaim these rights if revived. There were some slots outside of Jet as well that were requested by the airlines,” Kharola told reporters.

Jet was the largest scheduled operator in India accounting for 13.8% market share in international operations during FY18. The Mumbai-based carrier had rights to ferry over 24,000 passengers each week to/from Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAE while it could operate 11,000 seats per week to Singapore. Its flying quota to Thailand, Qatar and Hong Kong stood at 10,000, 8,500 and 3,600 seats per week before it suspended all operations due to financial crunch.

According to sources, IndiGo’s request to fly into China was also approved on Friday. This was not part of Jet’s quota of bilateral flying rights.

Since the grounding of Jet on April 17, the capacity on international routes went down sharply prompting the government to allocate Jet’s quota of seats to other carriers.

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Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines joint venture Vistara and Wadia-group owned GoAir also got some of the Jet’s routes. National carrier Air India has already been awarded additional seats to Dubai, Doha and London from Jet’s quota.

Apart from getting some routes from Jet’s quota, IndiGo got fresh rights to operate in routes like Beijing, Shanghai and Kunming from Delhi and Kolkata. According to sources, the low-cost carrier will be operating 18-20 flights per week.

From Jet’s quota, the airline has got new flights to Dhaka from Delhi and Mumbai and will increase daily frequency from Kolkata. It will also operate 8-10 flights per week to Hong Kong from cities like Delhi which were earlier operated by Jet.

An IndiGo spokesperson said the process to receive necessary approvals is still going on.

“At this stage, we are in the process of securing the necessary approvals to operate into China, and as soon as we receive all the requisite permissions from the government to operate, we will inform our key stakeholders accordingly,” the spokesperson said.

Similarly for SpiceJet, new flights to Dhaka would be added from Delhi and Mumbai apart from increasing frequency from Kolkata. The Gurugram-based carrier, which plans to add around 28 of Jet’s Boeing 737 planes, has also bagged seats to Hong Kong from the grounded carrier’s quota.

Full-service carrier Vistara too plans to fly passengers to Dhaka from Delhi and Mumbai, which were used by Jet earlier. Vistara is also planning to induct six Jet’s Boeing 737 to kick-start its international journey.

IndiGo chief executive officer Ronojoy Dutta, SpiceJet’s chairman and managing director Ajay Singh, and Vistara CEO Leslie Thng were present during the meeting with the civil aviation ministry on Friday.

All major scheduled carriers, in the first week of May had requested the civil aviation ministry that they be given permission to operate on the vacant overseas flying rights of Jet.

The Jet management and one of its employees’ union had written to the government last month not to allocate its international flying rights but to wait for the outcome of airline’s sale process being carried out by its lenders.

As on date, the banks have not been able to finalise any suitor to pick up stake in Jet as only Etihad Airways, Jet’s minority equity partner, has come forward to re-invest in the beleaguered carrier but that too with conditions, which does not guarantee any revival.

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