Vistara, AirAsia plan to double their flights in winters

BS Reporter New Delhi
New airlines Vistara and AirAsia India are looking to double their flight frequencies in the winter schedule beginning October 25. Overall, the domestic carriers plan to fly over 1,400 additional flights per week during the forthcoming winter months.

The new airlines have proposed a total of 739 weekly flights, up from 344 flights it is operating in the summer schedule. With the entry of new airlines, including regional players, there may be a 13 per cent increase in the number of weekly flights this winter compared to last year.

All the 11 domestic carriers, including the newly launched regional carrier Air Pegasus, plan to operate 13,951 flights a week during the winters against a total of 12,305 during the previous year's winter schedule. During the ongoing summer schedule, there are a total of 12,533 flights operating every week domestically.

The airlines have submitted their proposal of weekly flights during the winter schedule to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for approval. The DGCA will hold a meeting with the airlines, Airports Authority of India, Met department and Delhi International Airport on August 18 to finalise the winter schedule.

"This is a decent rise. We usually see a five-six per cent increase in the number of flights every year. This increase is factored by entry of new airlines, including the regional ones and the proposed increase in fleet size of the airlines," said a senior DGCA official.

Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines (SIA), has proposed 347 weekly flights, up from 176 it is operating at present. AirAsia India, a joint venture between Malaysia's AirAsia Berhad, Tata Sons and Telestra Tradeplace, may see 392 departures every week from 168.

Both AirAsia India and Vistara - which started operations in June last year and January this year, respectively - plan to increase their fleet size to nine this year.

"We have plans to add at least three more aircraft to our existing fleet of six by the end of this calendar year. With that, we would increase frequency to our existing network and announce a few new destinations as well. More details will be shared at an appropriate time," said Rashmi Soni, head of corporate communications at Vistara.

AirAsia chief executive officer Mittu Chandilya had said in May the airline will increase its fleet size by up to nine from five.

While Vistara flies to 10 destinations at present, AirAsia flies to six destinations in India. State-run carrier Air India has proposed to marginally scale down its operations to 1,705 flights during the period as against 1,718 flights a week being operated currently. Market leader Indigo plans 68 more flights in winters and low-cost carrier SpiceJet may add 335 flights to its operations. Jet Airways has proposed 3,307 flights during the period against 2,836 at present.

However, these are just proposals submitted to the DGCA and a final call will be taken by the regulator after taking into account various factors. "We will consider the fleet size, compliance to Category-III routes (smaller cities), hourly movement of the airlines, number of trained pilots and current status of alternate airports," said the DGCA official.

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First Published: Aug 08 2015 | 12:48 AM IST

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