India’s fast-growing SpiceJet is rapidly expanding its presence into the Gulf region as it announced a number of initiatives in recent weeks. These are to open up India to travelers from the UAE and Bahrain. And SpiceJet is not the only one to seek opportunities…
On November 25, SpiceJet and Emirates announced the signing of their codeshare an interline agreement. It was announced as a Memorandum of Understanding in April and still needs final approval, but yet customers are able to book flights since this week for traveling from December 15.
Emirates serves nine destinations in India: Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, and Thiruvananthapuram. From there, passengers can connect to 172 SpiceJet destinations. The Indian airline itself operates to Dubai from Amritsar, Calicut, Mangalore, Madurai, Jaipur, and Pune.
With its vast long haul network, Emirates can tap into the fast-growing Indian market that already includes 170 weekly flights out of Dubai. “Our partnership will help us leverage SpiceJet’s extensive route network so that our customers who are visiting friends and family can fly closer to their hometowns, while tourists can more easily access many of the incredible sights and sounds India has to offer. This will also have a significant and positive impact on businesses in both countries and globally. We look to strengthening our partnership with SpiceJet even more in the coming months”, Emirates’ CCO Adnan Kazim says. Of course, this works the other way around for SpiceJet.
MoU with Ras al Khaimah
While Dubai is important for SpiceJet, the airline sees more opportunities in the United Arab Emirates. It recently announced an MoU with Ras al Khaimah Airport to develop promote and develop tourism into this one of the seven UAE-emirates. This includes developing Ras into a hub, where it enters direct competition with another prominent low-cost airline in the region: Air Arabia. How and when the Ras-initiative will become operational has not been announced.
SpiceJet also fancies a stronghold elsewhere in the Gulf region as it and Gulf Air announced an MoU for a codeshare and interline agreements and cooperation on cargo services, engineering services, and pilot training. This is an interesting aspect, as SpiceJet operates a predominantly Boeing-fleet (not counting its Dash 8-turboprops) while Gulf Air’s fleet consists of Boeing 787-9 and in the near future Airbus A320neo/A321neo’s.
“The Middle East has always been among our top priority markets. This agreement is going to play a very important role for SpiceJet’s next phase of growth as we continue to explore the innumerable opportunities around us”, SpiceJet’s managing director Ajay Singh said.
Gulf Air operates to eight destinations within India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin, Hyderabad, Calicut, and Bangalore.
IndiGo ties up with Qatar Airways
There is more reciprocal interest between the Gulf-region and India, as demonstrated by Qatar Airways and IndiGo. Early November, both airlines announced a codeshare agreement that becomes effective from December 18. Both airlines will codeshare on flights from/to Doha to Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad.
Qatar Airways operates 102 weekly flights to 13 destinations in India, including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Nagpur, and Thiruvananthapuram, with Qatar Cargo active to seven destinations on 28 weekly services.
Since the demise of Jet Airways this Spring, IndiGo and SpiceJet have aggressively expanded their networks into the Middle East region and the codeshare agreements confirm they are taken seriously by the two major airlines of the region. That Qatar has been economically blocked by numerous countries in the region since 2017 could make these alliances more complicated but still, partner airlines within the ME and India are expected to benefit from this new round of partnerships.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.