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Wednesday, 17 April, 2019, 14 : 15 PM [IST]

Business case is strong in India to connect 10 more cities: Jazeera Airways

Kuwaiti low-cost carrier Jazeera Airways is bullish about its prospects in the Indian market, and would consider increasing frequencies on the existing Delhi and Mumbai routes to daily services, while introducing flights to newer destinations in India post revision in bilaterals. 

Talking to TravelBiz Monitor during his recent visit to Mumbai, Rohit Ramachandran, CEO, Jazeera Airways, said, “The business case is very strong in India for 10 more cities to be brought in our route map. However, the air services agreement between the two countries is limited to 12,000 seats for carriers on each side. This capacity has been exhausted from the Kuwaiti side and in excess of 90% from the Indian side. Talks are underway between both governments to review the agreement. If that happens, we would like to operate double daily flights to Mumbai and Delhi, besides connecting Trivandrum, Calicut, Kannur, Madurai, Trichy, Chennai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Amritsar, Nagpur and Chandigarh, which are of interest to us.” The air services agreement between India and Kuwait was last updated in 2007.

According to Ramachandran, there was a need for strong, direct and affordable connectivity between the two countries as 1 million Indians calls Kuwait their home. “We began operations to India from November 2017 with a daily service to Hyderabad. This was followed by services to Ahmedabad and Kochi, daily flights to Mumbai and in December 2018, we launched the Delhi route. From the very first month, the Delhi route is profitable and operates at a load factor of 88%. Currently, India is the most dynamic aviation market in the world. The next 10-15 years will witness massive aviation growth with significant challenges.”

The composition of travellers between India and Kuwait for Jazeera Airways is VFR, pilgrimage, business and more recently MICE. “VFR is the backbone of our India network. We have started witnessing a growing interest from India for MICE travel and pilgrim visits to Tbilisi and Baku.”
 
Jazeera Airways offers onward connections to 12 overseas destinations for travellers from India. From June this year, he said, “We are launching direct flights between Kuwait and London, the first for a Middle Eastern carrier.”

The airline operates an Airbus A320 fleet, with a large composition of neo aircraft. Ramachandran said, “Three more aircraft will be joining our fleet by year end taking the fleet count to 13. In the next two years, we will have 22-25 aircraft.”

Commenting on IATA’s NDC (New Distribution Capability) standard, he said, “We are evaluating it very closely. There needs to be more work on NDC to be the right solution for the region. It is going to take a while before the standard is launched in the Middle East and South Asia.”

 
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