SpiceJet to start flights to Kathmandu, Dhaka, Maldives
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SpiceJet to start flights to Kathmandu, Dhaka, Maldives

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 08, 2010, 20:17
 
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SpiceJet to start flights to Kathmandu, Dhaka, Maldives
New Delhi: SpiceJet Ltd Tuesday said it will start flights to three overseas destinations--Kathmandu, Dhaka and the Maldives--by March next year after receiving federal government approval, making it the first Indian budget carrier to fly overseas. The airline, however, failed to receive approval to launch flights to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, SpiceJet Chief Commercial Officer, Samyukth Sridharan, told Dow Jones Newswires. Starting overseas flights will pitch SpiceJet against full-service Indian carriers such as Jet Airways (India) Ltd, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. and Air India, as well as foreign airlines. A SpiceJet executive said in April that the airline will price its tickets 10 percent -15 percent lower than other carriers on its overseas routes. "The aim to start international operations is to increase our aircraft utilization," Sridharan said, without elaborating. He said government approvals to start services to Kathmandu, Dhaka and the Maldives were received two to three weeks ago. Under government rules, an Indian carrier is eligible to start overseas flights only after completing five years of domestic operations and acquiring a fleet of 20 planes. SpiceJet, which has a fleet of 20 Boeing planes, completed five years in May."The letter (from the civil aviation ministry) doesn't state any reason for not allowing us to fly to Colombo," Sridharan said. "We are going back to the ministry to figure out why flights to the fourth city were not approved." The Business Standard newspaper reported earlier Tuesday that the civil aviation ministry turned down SpiceJet's Colombo plan as traffic in the sector wasn't sufficient to sustain a third airline. Jet Airways and Air India already operate flights to Colombo. "Colombo traffic is rising from the past four months, driven by flights from India," Sridharan said. "A stable political environment is aiding this growth." He said flights to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu should start around September. SpiceJet executives previously said Kathmandu flights would start during June or July. "We'll start Kathmandu flights only post-monsoon. It requires a lot of work such as route check and permissions," Sridharan said. He added that a Kolkata-Dhaka flight will likely be launched in August. "All paperwork is being done, such as applying for slots at Dhaka and regulatory approvals from Bangladesh," he said. "Maldives won't happen before next calendar year. Let's say by February-March." Sridharan said SpiceJet will focus on these four overseas destinations over the next year and doesn't plan to launch flights on more foreign routes. PTI



First Published: Tuesday, June 08, 2010, 20:17


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