SpiceJet to start flights to Kathmandu, Dhaka, Maldives

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 20:17

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.

traffic is rising from the past four months, driven by flights from India,"
Sridharan said. "A stable political environment is aiding this

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.


First Published: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 - 20:17

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