Tata-group owned airlines AirAsia India and Vistara have announced 11 new flights from Mumbai after the airport operator released unused slots belonging to Jet Airways. The slots have been released to the airlines on a temporary basis.
Private airport operators in Mumbai and Delhi and the Airports Authority of India have held several rounds of discussions with other airlines to fill up the capacity shortage caused due to grounding of Jet Airways fleet. While reduction of flights led to a hike in fares, it affected airports too. Fewer flights means lower revenue by way of landing fees and less passenger footfalls
Over 70 per cent of the airline’s fleet has been grounded, leading to massive cancellations. Jet has been a dominant carrier in Mumbai and its daily departures are down to 24 from the earlier 140. Delhi airport, too, is finalising the issue of slots belonging to Jet.
Other private airlines also have been offered slots by Mumbai airport but are yet to announce new flights. Schedule changes depend upon aircraft utilisation and availability of pilots among other things. A source said airlines were advised to operate flights on routes flown by Jet prior to its crisis with a view to maintain capacity on routes.
On Thursday, Vistara announced launch of five flights between Mumbai and Bengaluru and one new flight from Mumbai to Hyderabad and Kolkata. These would operate from April 16 to July 15. Currently, Vistara flies to Delhi and Amirtsar from Mumbai and its market growth has been stunted due to non-availability of slots.
Vistara will be reducing frequencies on other routes to operate these additional services from Mumbai.
AirAsia India announced three additional flights to Bengaluru and a new flight to Kochi from Mumbai, beginning April 15. The airline did not mention until which date these flights would remain in operations.
“There is precedence for grant of slots on a temporary basis. During SpiceJet crisis, its unused slots were temporarily given to other airlines and IndiGo was the main beneficiary that time,” said aviation expert Ameya Joshi.