With the temporary shutdown of Jet Airways, the Indian bureaucracy has busied itself more with farming out its rights rather than trying to revive the airline. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has initiated the process to temporarily withdraw some of Jet Airways international bilateral rights and grant these to other airlines. MOCA held a meeting with other airlines for the redistribution of these rights on May 17, 2019. Airlines were asked to submit their fleet induction plan and their wishlist for international expansion.
According to the Civil Aviation Secretary, P S Kharola,
We had asked airlines to confirm their requirement of (domestic) slots and (international) traffic rights…Their requests have been officially logged in. Our people will do analysis now and we will evolve a transparent SOP based on which the rights will be given.
According to CNBC, some of Jet Airways bilateral rights to Dubai, Singapore, Qatar, Hong Kong and London were temporarily withdrawn.
|City/Airport/Country||Bilateral rights earlier held||Bilateral rights temporarily withdrawn||Bilateral rights left|
|Dubai||12,979 seats/week||5,825 seats/week||7,154 seats/week|
|Hong Kong||3,584 seats/week||1,792 seats/week||1,792 seats/week|
|Singapore||12,076 seats/week||1,620 seats/week||10,456 seats/week|
|Qatar||8,559 seats/week||5,670 seats/week||2,889 seats/week|
|London Heathrow||28 flights/week||14 flights/week||14 flights/week|
Indian Express reported that IndiGo will start Delhi – Hong Kong route with 8-10x weekly flights. SpiceJet, on the other hand, will start flights on Mumbai – Hong Kong route. IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara would connect Delhi and Mumbai with Dhaka using Jet Airways bilateral rights. Airlines are requesting allocating additional bilateral rights from Jet Airways to mount flights to Singapore and Bangkok.
In addition, Qatar Airways also wants to mount temporary flights to Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru from Doha.
There are many questions unanswered though. How many bilateral rights have been withdrawn on a temporary basis? Will the process of allocating bilateral rights be transparent? What will be the basis for the allocation of temporary international rights? Will it favour incumbent carriers operating on the route or will new carriers be given preference?
Will it factor in capacity being added? Will it be on the basis of previous years of international capacity added? If Jet Airways was to resurrect, how will the transfer workout?
Air India took delivery of the last A320neo on order last month and doesn’t have any new aircraft on order. But Air India has around 23 aircraft grounded (down from earlier 24) for quite a few months and their current aircraft utilisation is also poor compared to other carriers.Embed from Getty Images
Air India earlier was exploring the possibility of adding up to 5 Jet Airways 777s on a lease. Air India was planning to add Mumbai – London, Mumbai – Dubai, Delhi – London, Delhi – Dubai and Delhi – Singapore flights using those 777s. But they opted out. Instead, Air India is planning to deploy its own aircraft (some of the grounded aircraft are being brought back) to add flights on the above routes.
Air India added an additional daily frequency to Dubai from Delhi and Mumbai each from June 1, 2019. Considering Air India utilised the temporary bilateral rights, there is still 2241 seats/week up for grabs on India-Dubai route factoring that data provided by CNBC.
It was also reported that Air India got a big share of Jet Airways bilateral rights on a temporary basis to add flights to Doha (around 5000 seats/week) and London Heathrow (2x daily flights).
|Aircraft type||Aircraft Registeration||Status||Airport Grounded At||Last Flight||Last Flight on||Notes|
|A319||VT-SCN||Operational||Kolkata||AI 628 NAG-BOM||February 7, 2019||Back on March 6, 2019 AI 705 CCU-DIB FlightAware shows only 5 flights operated from November 28, 2018 to February 27, 2019|
|A319||VT-SCR||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 626 LKO-BOM||April 07, 2019|
|A319||VT-SCS||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 662 GOI-BOM||February 10, 2019|
|A319||VT-SCT||Grounded||Delhi||AI 821 IXJ-SXR||January 14, 2019||Before that operated AI 812 LKO-DEL on 12-11-2018|
|A319||VT-SCU||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 668 TRV-BOM||December 26, 2018||Operated one-off flight HYD-BOM on March 15, 2019|
|A319||VT-SCV||Operational||Delhi||AI 1764 DEL-CCU||January 17, 2019||Operated one-off flight BHO-BOM on March 23, 2019. Back on June 7, 2019 as AI230 CCU-DAC|
|A319||VT-SCX||Grounded||Delhi||AI 628 NAG-BOM||February 3, 2019||FlightAware shows only 5 recorded operated flights since 13-11-2018|
|A321||VT-PPA||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 986 MCT-BOM||June 1, 2019|
|A321||VT-PPL||Grounded||Hyderabad||AI 542 HYD-TIR||February 2, 2019||Accident at Tirupati Airport. Before that operated last flight AI 24 DEL-BOM on 12-01-2019|
|A321||VT-PPM||Operational||Delhi||DEL-BOM (Cancelled)||June 21, 2018||Back on May 8, 2019 as AI 91 BOM-AMD|
|A321||VT-PPN||Grounded||Hyderabad||AI 541 TIR-HYD||January 29, 2019|
|A321||VT-PPT||Operational||Mumbai||AI 683 BOM-GOI||August 11, 2018||Back on March 8, 2019 AI 618 HYD-BOM|
|A321||VT-PPU||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 665 DEL-BOM||October 20, 2018|
|A321||VT-PPW||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 614 AMD-BOM||April 3, 2019|
|A321||VT-PPX||Grounded||Delhi||AI 806 BOM-DEL (Cancelled)||November 28, 2018|
|A320||VT-EDC||Grounded||Delhi||AI 820 BDQ-DEL||February 19, 2019|
|A320||VT-EDF||Operational||Delhi||AI 840 HYD-DEL||February 13, 2019||Back on March 20, 2019 AI 439 DEL-MAA|
|747-400||VT-ESP||Operational||Mumbai||AI 5226 MED-BOM||September 18, 2019||Back on March 9, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL|
|747-400||VT-ESO||Operational||Mumbai||AI 966 HYD-BOM||May 28, 2019||AI 1|
|747-400||VT-EVA||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 191 DEL-BOM||May 13, 2019|
|747-400||VT-EVB||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 966 HYD-BOM||January 29, 2019|
|777-300ER||VT-ALO||Grounded||Mumbai||BOM-BOM||August 9, 2018|
|777-300ER||VT-ALU||Operational||Nagpur||AI 1469 DEL-NAG||September 22, 2018||Back on June 6, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL|
|787-8||VT-ANB||Operational||Mumbai||AI 349 DEL-BOM||January 7, 2019||Back on May 24, 2019 as AI 31 BOM-AMD|
|787-8||VT-ANG||Operational||Mumbai||AI 331 BKK-BOM||April 7, 2018||Back on May 22, 2019 as AI 31 BOM-AMD|
|787-8||VT-ANJ||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 865 DEL-BOM||October 9, 2018|
|787-8||VT-ANK||Operational||Mumbai||AI 331 BKK-BOM||July 8, 2018||Back on April 6, 2019 AI 330 BOM-BKK|
|787-8||VT-ANM||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 863 DEL-BOM||January 2, 2019|
|787-8||VT-ANN||Operational||Mumbai||AI 349 DEL-BOM||February 25, 2019||Back on April 13, 2019 AI 310 BOM-DEL|
|787-8||VT-ANO||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 315 DEL-BOM||April 28, 2019|
|787-8||VT-ANU||Operational||Delhi||AI 121 DEL-FRA Suffered mid-air decompression.||March 6, 2019||Back on May 31, 2019 as AI 20 DEL-CCU.|
|787-8||VT-ANW||Grounded||Mumbai||AI 331 BKK-BOM||May 26, 2019|
Then again, Air India is dealing with its own problems. Due to the prolonged closure of Pakistan airspace, flights to Europe and USA are taking a longer route. This translates to an increase in crew and aircraft utilisation. Adding to this, the grounding of 23 aircraft including some 777s and 787s for quite a few months, Air India is finding it difficult and costly to maintain the schedule.
Groundings of Air India aircraft lead to a decrease in capacity on Singapore routes. Air India reduced Delhi – Singapore route to daily (from 2x daily) and downgraded Mumbai and Chennai routes to A321 since the last year. So will Air India get an additional share in Singapore routes?
While we already know about SpiceJet’s intentions of adding various international flights out of Mumbai. Time and again, in every press release since some Jet Airways slots were re-distributed, SpiceJet has mentioned the following statement.
SpiceJet has also announced a slew of new non-stop international flights to Hong Kong, Jeddah, Dubai, Colombo, Dhaka, Riyadh, Bangkok and Kathmandu from Mumbai effective May-end. The airline will deploy its Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft on all the routes.
SpiceJet did add Mumbai – Bangkok and Delhi – Bangkok flights using bilateral rights from their kitty. They cancelled Amritsar – Bangkok and Hyderabad – Bangkok to add flights from Mumbai and Delhi. In March 2019, bilateral rights for flights to Saudi Arabia were increased. Both IndiGo and SpiceJet took advantage of these and added flights from Mumbai.
Kathmandu, Hong Kong, Dubai and Dhaka have bilateral rights restriction especially Hong Kong. So was SpiceJet so confident of getting Jet Airways bilateral rights especially to Hong Kong that they launched a presser a month back in April 2019? Or did they have some bilateral rights left and weren’t adding flights till now? If its the first case then how can it be assured that the procedure is transparent as guaranteed by MoCA?
MoCA and DGCA have given SpiceJet more, which was covered very well by ET Prime. Slots to carriers were only supposed to be given if they added additional capacity. But SpiceJet, which was handicapped operationally due to the grounding of 13 737MAX aircraft, prioritised adding new temporary flights, even on short notice, instead of using the ex-Jet Airways 737s to first bring their own schedule in order.
Till date passengers are receiving alerts that flights have been delayed or cancelled due to the grounding of 737MAX.
They didn’t have the courtesy to even ask if it’s feasible for such odd timings though it’s there mistake of their incapability. Such a crude way of minting money. Can they guarantee this flight without further delay at the end moment?#worstairlines #spicejet #worstspicejet pic.twitter.com/EaB4ybvuV3
— Gayathri (@Gayathr51697820) May 12, 2019
Rich coming from an airline which comments,
The new domestic flights will help in minimising the passenger inconvenience caused due to the sudden shortage in capacity within the Indian aviation industry.
Vistara got its international operating permit in March 2019, almost a year after it had applied. While Vistara didn’t announce any international routes, Delhi – Colombo is going to be the first route.
But since then, a lot has changed, especially due to Jet Airways. Delivery of new aircraft, from the order placed last year, will start only from the second half of 2019. So, to take advantage of the current situation, Vistara will take some ex-Jet Airways aircraft as a stop-gap arrangement.
While not many details are out yet, Vistara may be looking at adding flights to Europe and far-east considering they are looking at adding 777s and A330s which were operated by Jet Airways. But it all depends on how many bilaterals are made available to them by MOCA.
IndiGo has its own growth plan. While they may be taking advantage of the current situation, they are also not deviating from their original growth plan by a big margin.
While, international growth was supposed to form a majority of their growth, due to the Jet Airways situation, they undertook a huge domestic expansion temporarily. IndiGo temporarily pulled out of some international routes like Bengaluru – Phuket, Ahmedabad – Doha and Trivandrum – Doha. This may be factored in by the MOCA while allocating rights, especially to Qatar, considering IndiGo is the largest Indian carrier to operate to Doha.
But it isn’t that IndiGo has stopped international expansion. IndiGo last year mentioned that they would expand to Saudi Arabia, and they did. They added flights to Jeddah and Dammam. They even mounted additional flights on the Delhi – Kathmandu sector.
IndiGo also has intentions of adding flights to China and they were recently approved by both DGCA and CAAC to add flights to China. Let’s see which bilateral rights are made available to them.
GoAir had earlier stopped taking delivery of new A320neo and grounded quite a few A320ceo. Now, deliveries of new A320neo have begun, while some A320ceo are leaving the fleet. GoAir will pull out of Maldives completely in early July 2019. The only international destinations are Phuket (from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru), Abu Dhabi (from Kannur) and Muscat (from Kannur).
With A320neos on order and deliveries now on track, GoAir can be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the temporary international rights distribution, provided they have a growth plan.
AirAsia India hasn’t yet received its international flying permit, so they are out of question. Let’s see what actually unfolds and what routes are added by airlines and when.
What are your thoughts on MOCA distributing Jet Airways temporary international rights?