SpiceJet to focus on South, East, with eye on international flights

SpiceJet will focus on the southern and eastern sectors of the countries, which it feels will ultimately help its international ambitions. The low-cost carrier's reasons that the two sectors generate the maximum traffic on the lucrative Gulf and Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) routes.

The airline recently announced a decision to start a flight from Kolkata to Port Blair. It has filed for schedules on the route. But SpiceJet is not looking at investing in any more aircraft for its prospective overseas services, and will operate with its existing fleet. The airline is set to get delivery of its 15th aircraft soon and, by the end of next fiscal, 10 more will be added.

Airports in the east - especially Kolkata, Bhubaneswar Silchar and Guwahati - are the fastest-growing in the country. Apart from re-launching its Delhi-Kolkata flights by end-October, SpiceJet will start a Bangalore-Kolkata flight around the same time.

In the south, its key base is Hyderabad, but SpiceJet wants to add Bangalore, where a new airport raises hopes of improved parking conditions. The Kochi-Delhi route has recently been started. Overall, the carrier is looking at increasing its present 89 flights to about 170 in the next phase of expansion.

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel's recent indications that the government may do away with the five-year domestic operation norm for carriers keen to fly overseas — and allow them to fly overseas on a case-to-case basis — seems to have prodded the carrier to move faster on its plans.