IndiGo Set To Launch New Middle East Services

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Indian budget airline IndiGo is increasing its services to the Middle East as it announced on Friday the launch of services to the cities of Dubai (UAE) and Doha (Qatar) from Kolkata. These operations will begin on 16 February with the Kolkata-Dubai service. Two weeks later, on 1 March, the Kolkata-Doha service will commence.

IndiGo takeoff Airbus
IndiGo launched services to the Middle East from Delhi and Mumbai in July and August 2019. Photo: Airbus

“We are pleased to announce new non-stop flights connecting Kolkata with Dubai and Doha to strengthen our connectivity between Middle East and Asia,” – Ronjoy Datta, IndiGo Chief Executive Officer

We reached out to IndiGo for further information, who kindly provided us with this flight schedule as additional information:

IndiGo’s flight schedule for its new Kokata services to the Middle East. Photo: IndiGo

Increasing connectivity and growing demand

The press release provided by the airline identifies “growing international traffic to and from Kolkata” as the reason for the new service. Those who live in the Middle East will know that there is a high demand for labor in the region and that many migrant workers in the Middle East come from India.

Indigo says that the flights are designed to cater to “business and leisure travelers who are constantly on the lookout for new and affordable flying options”.

indifo-1500-flights-per-day
IndiGo is now flying 1,500 domestic flights per day. Photo: Airbus.

IndiGo’s CEO also mentions that growing tourism in Kolkata as another reason for the flights. According to the Economic Times of India, Kolkata logged 13.3% growth in foreign tourist arrivals between April-December 2019. This, the Economic Times says, is the highest among all the metro cities in the country.

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On the Middle Eastern side, Dubai was one of the most popular outbound destinations for IndiGo’s route network in 2019. In fact, Dubai’s population is only 15% “native residents” according to World Population Review. South Asians (primarily from India) account for 51% of the population. According to Priya Dsouza, nearly 22% of Doha’s population is from India. No wonder IndiGo is increasing its services to the region!
Airbus delivery of 1000th A320neo
Airbus delivered their 1000th A320neo in October this year. Photo: Airbus

Middle East investment

Links between the Middle East and India have increased significantly in the last year. Here is a list of examples that show this increasing relationship:

  • Indian budget carrier SpiceJet will be setting up another low-cost airline in the Emirate of Ras-al-Khaimah in the UAE.
  • In November we wrote about Qatar Airways’ partnership with IndiGo in the form of a codeshare.
  • Qatar also reportedly had an interest in buying a stake in the airline.
  • Etihad is reported to be considering an investment in Air India – although the likeliness of this happening is difficult to gauge.

Conclusion

At this point it appears that Air India and Emirates are the only other direct, non-stop services between Dubai and Kolkata. The Emirates service currently occurs 11x weekly on  Boeing 777 widebody jets. Air India operates an A320neo for its 4x weekly service. Qatar Airways operates a daily service between Doha and Kolkata (most often) using the Boeing 787-8.

With IndiGo’s fleet of Airbus A320s, the new services should compliment the service of the Middle Eastern giants quite well without posing too much of a threat as the products being offered are quite different.

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Do you think these new services will be as popular as anticipated? Will Indigo be taking away market share from Qatar and Emirates? Let us know in the comments!

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