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Business News/ Industry / The foreign presence — and absence — of Indian airlines that every passenger must know
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The foreign presence — and absence — of Indian airlines that every passenger must know

Ahead of summer flying schedule, a look at the foreign routes that Indian airlines are present in and the ones they aren’t

Air India group and IndiGo have publicly stated their intentions to expand in international sectors. (Representative Image) (HT_PRINT)Premium
Air India group and IndiGo have publicly stated their intentions to expand in international sectors. (Representative Image) (HT_PRINT)

Air India group and IndiGo have publicly stated their intentions to expand in international sectors. Even with repeated focus on international routes over the last few years, IndiGo still has 89.4% of its departures as domestic and 72.4% of its capacity by ASK (available seat kilometres) deployed on domestic routes. For Air India, 68.2% of its departures are domestic but the long haul flights mean that 76.6% of its capacity by ASK is International.

As we transition to the Northern Summer 2024 schedule on the last Sunday of March, there are 4,055 weekly international flights out of India in the first week of April. These flights are across 342 sectors and there are 83 airlines which are scheduled to operate to and from India which includes Indian carriers. The data has been shared by Cirium, an aviation analytics company, exclusively for this article.

Routes which have no Indian presence

There are 22 routes from Delhi, which see no Indian carrier operate. This is followed by 21 from Mumbai and 14 from Bengaluru.

There are nine routes from Ahmedabad where there are foreign carriers but none of the Indian carriers operate, four from Amritsar. Likewise, there are eight such routes from Kolkata, three from Coimbatore, seven from Kochi, three from Guwahati, six from Goa, six from Hyderabad, two from Bagdogra, one from Madurai, four from Jaipur, three from Lucknow, eleven from Chennai, two from Nagpur, five from Thiruvananthapuram, three from Trichy, one from Varanasi and two from Vizag.

Also read: IndiGo launches daily direct flights between Hyderabad and Bangkok

Interestingly, in some cases, there are two foreign carriers operating on the route but none from the Indian side. Vietjet and Vietnam airlines operate to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city from Mumbai, but no Indian carrier operates to these places from Mumbai. Likewise, Malaysia Airlines and Batik Air Malaysia operate to Kuala Lumpur from Mumbai, but IndiGo is the only Indian carrier to operate to Kuala Lumpur from India, which it does from Chennai. There are three carriers to Kuala Lumpur from Kochi and also from Delhi, but no Indian carrier on the route.

Routes that have only Indian presence

When it comes to Indian carriers operating monopoly international routes, Air India Express wins hands down as it operates over 50 such routes, compared to 25 of IndiGo. Even Air India operates 26 such routes, one more than IndiGo indicating the long way IndiGo has to establish its presence on International routes. The Air India Express routes are largely driven from southern India while Air India’s routes to Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Copenhagen give it the much needed head start.

There are also a handful of destinations where there are two Indian carriers but none from the foreign side. There are two routes each from Ahmedabad and Amritsar, three from Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Bengaluru, eight from Mumbai, five from Calicut, nine from Kannur, two from Kochi, 17 from Delhi, two each from Goa, Indore and Hyderabad, eight from Mangalore, one each from Chandigarh and Jaipur, two from Madurai, Pune, Lucknow, Surat, one from Chennai, Varanasi and Vijayawada, and six from Trichy.

Also read: Tata Group companies to invest 2,300 crore in manufacturing hub in Karnataka

Between Kozhikode and Jeddah, there are flights operated by SpiceJet, IndiGo and Air India Express, but none of the foreign carriers serve this route.

Countries where foreign carriers operate but Indian carriers don't

While route specific changes are based on the hub and spoke or point to point nature of the network, there are few countries where Indian carriers do not fly at all.

Switzerland tops the list where Swiss Air flies to both Delhi and Mumbai while no Indian carriers offer services. Indian’s love Switzerland and it is always one of the sought after destinations in Europe. Poland and Finland are the other two countries in Europe which have direct flights to India by local carriers. Since Air India stopped flying to Moscow, the Russia - India connectivity also sees only Aeroflot operating. The sanctions post start of war has meant that lessors are not comfortable allowing airlines to operate planes. At times when lessors are okay with the plan, the insurance may not be favourable.

Other such countries are Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen - where the geo-political condition is not conducive enough. Iraqi Airways connects Najaf, Baghdad and Basra to Indian destinations. The largest chunk of countries without Indian carriers are in Africa, where carriers from Ethiopia, Egypt, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria remain unconnected from the Indian side. The other countries are Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus - all part of the former Soviet Union. Seychelles and Bhutan round up the list.

The author, Ameya Joshi, is an aviation analyst.

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Published: 02 Mar 2024, 09:26 AM IST
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