New Delhi: India’s two biggest airlines, National Aviation Co. of India Ltd-run Air India and Jet Airways (India) Ltd, are entering into agreements with foreign carriers to carry passengers, especially on the busy Mumbai-London leg that has seen a big churn in airlines operating on the sector in the past year.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd pulled out its non-stop flight earlier this month on the Mumbai-London route while Air India last year cancelled the London-New York leg of a Mumbai flight to the US through London.
Connected flights: Jet Airways will enter into a code-sharing alliance with Virgin Atlantic, allowing it to share passengers with its partner. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
Jet Airways is now entering into a so-called code-sharing alliance with Virgin Atlantic on the Mumbai-London sector for the two daily flights it runs from Mumbai, according to a senior government official who asked not to be named.
Code-sharing refers to a ticket marketing practice among airlines that allows carriers to share two characters in codes on airline reservation systems.
For instance, such a partnership between Jet Airways and Air Canada allows a passenger to fly between Mumbai and London on a flight run by the Indian carrier and then on to various Canadian destinations such as Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Edmonton on Air Canada flights.
Passengers benefit by checking in baggage to their final destination and earn air miles on one or both carriers.
The code-sharing alliance with Virgin Atlantic will allow Jet Airways to partly capture the space left over by the pull-out of its Mumbai-London service. Virgin Atlantic now connects just New Delhi and London. Financial terms of the arrangement were not immediately available.
Air India, on the other hand, has got a clearance for a code-sharing agreement with Kuwait Airways from the civil aviation ministry, said a company executive, who, too, requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak with the media.
This agreement will allow Air India’s passengers to fly from London on a Kuwait Airways flight to New York.
Last year, the airline had terminated the London-New York leg of its Mumbai-London-New York flight as it was focusing on the non-stop services it offers into the US. Also, the airline has started flying to the US from its hub in Frankfurt.
An analyst said code-sharing made sense given the glut in airline seat capacity on European routes, especially as premium traffic is not reviving. “It’s sensible because you are not adding or affecting frequencies. Virgin has customers with strong loyalty, which can now get on to Jet,” said Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation India chief executive officer Kapil Kaul. He added that a further capacity cut to London will likely depend on how much Jet Airways and Kingfisher are willing to give space to each other in an alliance announced last year.
“The international operations will be part of that (alliance). Kingfisher might temporarily suspend its international operations and resume focus post-2010. It needs to cuts its cash losses and conserve cash,” he said of the carrier that started flights non-stop to London from Mumbai and Bangalore in the past few months.