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Fly across the world on Indian wings

Indian budget carriers, expanding in the international sector, are set to offer a cheaper flying option.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 05, 2018, 04.56 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: Indian fliers, with international travel plans, are in for a treat, as Indian carriers such as IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir are aggressively expanding in the international sector.

While international expansion plans are set to provide greater — and cheaper — options to fliers, Vistara’s international expansion ambitions have been on hold due to a delay in approvals from the aviation ministry.

While IndiGo has plans to expand its international capacity by 31%, Spice-Jet plans to increase it by 17% between June and December this year. GoAir has also announced the launch of international operations with flights to Phuket and Male from this month.

Jet Airways and Air India, which have the largest international presence among Indian carriers, have not increased their international flights. IndiGo, in response to ET, said that international expansion is a part of the organic expansion plan of the airline.

“We are adding international points within Airbus 320 flying range and you will see new flights in the Gulf and South East Asian regions. This is part of the organic expansion plans by IndiGo, as we plan to complement our domestic network with international connectivity,” William Boulter, chief commercial officer, IndiGo, told ET.

He also said that the airline will continue to explore the untapped markets of Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities as well as short haul international markets. “We recently announced Kuala Lumpur as our 12th international destination and we plan to operate daily nonstop flights between Kuala Lumpur-Bangalore and Kuala Lumpur-Delhi effective November 15,” he said.
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SpiceJet is planning to expand internationally, as it is inducting Boeing 737 and Bombardier Q400 aircraft. In a letter to the aviation ministry, the airline had said that it plans to operate flights to Dhaka from Chennai and Delhi with the addition of the new Boeing 737 Max. As these airlines spread their wings,

Vistara’s proposal to launch international flights is stuck with the aviation ministry, which is not approving the proposal, as it feels that the airline should complete five years of domestic operations. Vistara wanted to fly international before the end of the current calendar year, which now seems unlikely.

This is because the government’s decision to relax 5 years and 20 aircraft foreign flying eligibility norms to zero years and 20 aircraft is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“It is a little unfair to hold Vistara’s plan due to a CBI inquiry into the case, when the cabinet decided to relax foreign flying norms,” said a civil aviation ministry official, who did not want to be identified. An aviation industry insider said that this cannot be a coincidence that an aggressive expansion is happening at a time, when newer carriers are planning to fly international.

“Airlines adding flights on the international sector is good news for the Indian aviation, as it would offer much more options to Indian fliers. I just hope that these launches are not happening to block the case of Vistara or AirAsia India for international expansion,” said the executive, who did not want to be identified.
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