New Delhi: Debt-laden Kingfisher Airlines Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd are growing their international presence after stalling expansion plans for a year due to the recession.
The civil aviation ministry has cleared Kingfisher’s proposal to join oneworld, an international grouping of airlines, while Jet has decided to increase its network in West Asia and Sri Lanka, two ministry officials said on condition of anonymity.
Joining an airline alliance has benefits such as code-sharing, use of lounges of member carriers and consolidation of frequent flyer miles. Code-sharing is a ticket-selling deal that allows travellers to connect seamlessly to destinations on flights of more than one airline.
Looking west: A Jet aircraft at the Bangkok airport. Jet has sought clearance to fly to destinations such as Riyadh and Jeddah. Thomas Engstrom / Bloomberg
Kingfisher’s proposal was cleared this week, one of the officials said.
“Oneworld will do an audit soon as the next step for joining the alliance,” said a Kingfisher official, who also declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The carrier’s chief executive Vijay Mallya had said last month that the process of joining oneworld will take 12-18 months.
Kingfisher’s second proposal to have a code-sharing agreement with British Airways Plc.—for select domestic routes where it flies and on points beyond which British Airways flies—is yet to be cleared.
Jet has sought permissions to fly to Saudi Arabian destinations such as Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah using Boeing 737 aircraft from New Delhi, besides starting new flights to Colombo from Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. It currently flies to Riyadh and Jeddah from Mumbai.
The airline has said it does not plan to expand using wide-body aircraft such as Boeing 777 or Airbus A330, and will only look at regional routes for international expansion this year.
“We will only look at adding short-haul routes, which will be operated on a (Boeing) 737, which is a smaller aircraft,” K.G. Vishwanath, vice-president, commercial strategy and investor relations, Jet Airways, had said in January.
Kingfisher is saddled with more than Rs6,000 crore in debt, while Jet was Rs14,000 crore in the red as of 31 December.