SpiceJet has announced plans to launch 42 new routes in July. New routes include more flights from Surat, Gwalior, Patna, as well as flights to the Maldives for the first time. The announcement is the first time any airline has expanded its route network since the second wave of COVID-19, which reduced domestic traffic substantially.
It’s important to note that many of SpiceJet’s routes are not “new” but just a restart of routes suspended during the second wave in May. However, there are some new services coming in the next few weeks. Here’s a rundown.
According to Moneycontrol, Surat is emerging as a key city for SpiceJet during this expansion. The airline will add and resume connections from the city in Gujrat to Jabalpur, Pune, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Patna. The routes will be served with a combination of DHC Q400s and Boeing 737s, depending on their popularity.
SpiceJet is also focusing on the rebounding leisure market with this latest announcement. The airline will add additional flights from Delhi to Leh and Srinagar, Ahmedabad to Jaipur and Udaipur, and several more. Domestic traffic has bounced back quickly in recent weeks and the government has now allowed 65% of scheduled flights to operate.
Other cities seeing flights return include Gwalior, which will see all of its routes to Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Pune resume. Patna will also now see flights to Surat (the only direct option), Bangalore (more flights), and Kolkata from mid-July onwards. Kolkata-Chennai will also see more flights, along with Ahmedabad-Pune and many others.
The services listed above will begin operating at some point between July 10th and August 1st. While many of these are simply resumptions, there several new connections between major and regional cities too. This is part of SpiceJet’s strategy to continue tapping into the regional market and using the government’s UDAN scheme to subsidize flights.
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After opting not to fly to the Maldives last year, SpiceJet has officially become the last Indian carrier to join the market. Starting late July, the carrier will offer connections from both Kochi and Mumbai to Malè. The former will begin operating on 30th July and fly six times a week (all days except Tuesday), while flights from Mumbai will start on 22nd July and operate weekly.
When it comes to the Maldives, one of India’s top holiday destinations last year, SpiceJet is entering a crowded market. IndiGo offers flights from both of SpiceJet’s proposed destinations, while GoAir and Vistara fly from Mumbai as well. This means the airline could struggle at first to capture the market.
The Maldives has announced that travelers from India and other South Asian countries will be able to enter the archipelago once again from July 15th. Airlines have quickly responded to the announcement and are scheduling flights from the same week.
How many will survive
As noted by Moneycontrol, SpiceJet has a less-than-stellar track record when it comes to actually maintaining routes. The airline routinely pulls out of markets with lower demand or high competition, without much of a fight. It’s unclear how many of these routes will survive in the long-run, once traffic settles down after the pandemic.
What do you think about SpiceJet’s newest routes? Let us know in the comments!