Jet Airways Collapse: India Now Has An Inadequate Number Of International Flights

The collapse of Jet Airways has created many gaps in air service that the market was unprepared to fill. While passenger demand is high, airline capacity isn’t at the right levels for international flights out of India. This has led to a bit of a capacity crunch as India now has an inadequate number of international flights. In general, the issue boils down to a lack of widebody aircraft and slow service additions or resumptions.

The collapse of Jet Airways and insufficient widebody count has left a capacity crunch on India’s international routes. Photo: Jet Airways

New services

The New Indian Express reports that airlines have applied for a significant number of international services that were once served by Jet Airways. Many of these are for short-haul routes to high demand cities. The most popular of these routes are to and from the Middle East and Singapore.

Of course, almost every airline in India is itching to add capacity to the Gulf. SpiceJet, with their new codeshare with Emirates, and IndiGo with their Turkish Airlines codeshare are some of the big players keen to add service. IndiGo even wants to fly to points in Europe with A321neo aircraft.

IndiGo wants to use A321neo aircraft to fly to Europe. Photo: BriYYZ/Wikimedia

In addition, Reuters reports that other airlines who once partnered with Jet Airways are now looking to add additional partners in this lucrative market. Indian aviation authorities are reluctant and slow to grant additional rights to international carriers. However, domestic carriers are at an advantage. As a result, other airlines are scrambling to find Indian partners. It also doesn’t help that Air India is putting pressure on the Civil Aviation Authority to avoid granting additional slots. Sify Finance reports that Air India alleges the foreign carriers are in a stronger competitive position and would be disastrous to Indian airlines.

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Foreign airlines

That being said, foreign airlines have been able to announce new services to India. KLM will increase capacity to India, including putting the 787-10 in service, and add a new route between Bangalore and Amsterdam. Virgin Atlantic will commence new service from London to Mumbai and Delta will launch service from New York to Mumbai. British Airways is also adding additional flights to India. Meanwhile, Qatar and American are considering additional flights also.

Delta, KLM, and Jet Airways Tails
Former Jet Airways partners Delta and KLM will launch additional service to India. Photo: Delta

However, in looking at these capacity increases, many just don’t fill the voids completely. This is partially because foreign carriers don’t have the dominance Jet Airways did, and will have to build up their base in India. As a result, fewer flights on previously existing services are going to be available.

The lack of widebodies

The only airline in India that has and operates widebodies is Air India. This puts a huge strain on the capacity to Europe in particular. Vistara has a small number of 787s on order, however, this doesn’t make up for some of that lost capacity in the meantime.

Vistara selected the 787-9 for long-haul operations. Photo: Boeing

That being said, it isn’t impossible for either Air India or Vistara to acquire even more widebody aircraft to put into service. And, once the capacity is restored, this could lead to a few new services being launched.

What new routes could be launched?

Vistara wants to acquire new widebodies. In addition, India’s aviation ministry may choose to grant foreign carriers new frequencies, especially on those city pairs underserved by Indian carriers. Here are five potential new routes:

  1. Mumbai to Manchester
  2. Chennai to Paris
  3. Mumbai to Toronto (year-round flights)
  4. Mumbai to Sydney
  5. Delhi to Johannesburg

Let’s look at why we think these new routes will be launched.

Mumbai to Manchester

This was a route Jet Airways served with A330 aircraft. Manchester is a significant area for Indian expatriates and it is likely either Vistara or Air India could launch these services with widebody aircraft.

Jet Airways
Jet Airways flew to Manchester with A330 aircraft. Photo via Wikimedia
Chennai to Paris

Chennai to Paris was a route that Jet Airways served. Air France could make a comeback on this route since there would be significant demand for one-stop service to points in Europe and North America from Chennai.

Air France 787
Air France could initiate flights between Chennai and Paris. Photo: Air France
Mumbai to Toronto

Jet Airways served Toronto via Amsterdam. However, Air Canada flies seasonally from Toronto to Mumbai. If Air India grows out of Mumbai as they anticipate, Air Canada or Air India could build the case to launch additional service between Mumbai and Toronto. Most likely, this would be the extension of flights to a year-round schedule that allows for connections on both ends.

Air Canada 777
Air Canada could use 777s to expand their flights to Mumbai. Photo: Air Canada
Mumbai to Sydney

Qantas is one airline that lost some share to India with Jet’s collapse. This is because Qantas partnered with Jet Airways and shuffled passengers through Singapore on routes to India. However, without Jet Airways, Qantas passengers now have to look to transiting with Emirates on flights to India. India does have some healthy demand to Australia as evidenced by a large Indian expatriate community in Australia. Air India operates flights to Melbourne and Sydney from their hub at Delhi. As a result, Qantas could see an opportunity to launch flights from Sydney to Mumbai.

Qantas 787
Qantas could launch nonstops from Sydney to Mumbai. Photo: Qantas

Moreover, a stronger Air India could make the case for additional flights to Australia from Mumbai.

Delhi to Johannesburg

This is a bit of a wildcard but could make sense. There are very strong ties between India and South Africa. Currently, no airline operates direct flights between India and South Africa. Delhi and Johannesburg are important cities and Jet Airways previously flew between Mumbai and Johannesburg, however, they couldn’t make the route work. Air India could partner closely with fellow Star Alliance partner South African Airways to fly from their hub in Delhi to SAA’s hub at Johannesburg.

Air India grounded Boeing 787
Air India could establish flights from India to South Africa. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Overall

India’s international routes are currently severely short on capacity with the lack of Jet Airways. While new routes could be granted to airlines, the question becomes when will capacity be restored as there is a significant delay when an airline establishes a new route. This delay comes from setting up infrastructure on both ends and, in some congested airports, attaining the necessary slots.

We’ll have to wait and see what new frequencies and routes will come to fruition.

When do you think international capacity from India will be restored? Let us know in the comments!

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CPR Whitehead

Mumbai and Delhi to London are the routes most likely to need capacity. 4 extra weekly BA routes will not adequately replace the 4 daily Jet flights, and most of the others were not profitable.

reader

Its high time that Air India should make dual hub with Goa Mumbai Lisbon and onwards to USA with Star Alliance TAP Portugal instead of all Air India Continental Europe flights going from Delhi. They should add UK routes such as Kolkata – London, extend Mumbai Frankfurt to Pune few days of week. Along with additional flights Chennai Kuala Lumpur & Oceania Air India network should be complete. Select geographies like a trio of African towns may be interesting for a weekly services such as Nairobi, Johannesburg and Antananarivo in Madagascar by Air India Express.