Soon, budget flights from India to North America

Soon, budget flights from India to North America

You may soon have the option of flying low cost all the way from India to North America. Norwegian, the world’s seventh largest budget carrier which recently announced fares starting at $65 from Europe and US, says it is considering India as a destination. Its India-Oslo flights will provide connections on Norwegian’s budget network to US and the Caribbean from the Norway hub.

A Norwegian spokesperson said: “As an ambitious airline with a huge aircraft order, Norwegian are always looking at potential new routes and while there are no immediate plans to serve India at this stage, it remains a market we are interested in, in the future.” Norwegian website says it offers over 500 routes to more than 150 destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Thailand, the Caribbean and the US. The LCC has 130 aircraft in its fleet with more than 260 on order.

International low cost carriers are eying India in a big way, even as among desi budget carriers only SpiceJetBSE 0.10 % is toying with the idea of flights to Europe. Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) long-haul LCC Scoot wants to operate its Boeing 787 Dreamliners on Singapore-India-Europe/Gulf routes under “fifth freedom” of aviation which lets an airline can fly from its home country to a second nation and take passengers from there to a third country and same on return.

Scoot management had recently told TOI that if India-Singapore bilateral are increased, the LCC can look at Singapore-Delhi/Mumbai/Chennai/Kolkata-Europe/Gulf flights. The cities being eyed to fly to and from India are: Zurich, Paris, Manchester, Amsterdam, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

On the other hand, foreign LCCs offer connections to as far as Australia and eastern Europe through their hubs in Dubai and Singapore and Indians are already flying long haul on them. The biggest foreign LCCs currently operating to India are Singapore-based Scoot and Tiger (both part of Singapore Airlines’ Group); Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia; Dubai-based flydubai and Sharjah’s Air Arabia. While the SIA budget carriers offer connections to China, Southeast Asia and Australia from their hub, Gulf LCCs do so to eastern Europe, West Asia and Africa. In fact, flydubai gets a significant transfer traffic for its Europe flights from India.

The free difference can be gauged from this: India-Australia return on full service starts at over Rs 50,000 while on low cost the fare (flying alone, with baggage and meals extra) starts at Rs 22,000.  Indian LCCs account for nearly two-third of all domestic air travel. IndiGo and SpiceJet fly to neighbouring countries, with the latter now planning to lease two Dreamliners to launch flights to Europe from this winter. “If we are able to offer return fare of Rs 25-30,000 to UK, there will be a big demand for that. Long haul budget market is something that we will try,” SpiceJet chief Ajay Singh had recently told TOI. Airbus has for years been trying to convince IndiGo to buy the wide body A-330.

A top aviation ministry source said Indian LCCs are looking at long haul operations now.


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