As international flights open, summer holidays boost demand

Passengers can also take advantage of cheaper connecting flights to a third country. IndiGo to increase flights by 50%, Vistara to step up operations in London

Passengers can also take advantage of cheaper connecting flights to a third country.

As international flights fully restart from Sunday, airlines are stepping up flights to meet strong demand for overseas holidays, which is mainly driven by short-haul destinations in South Asia, South Asia -East, West Asia and Europe.

Until now, travel to and from India has been restricted to 37 countries with restricted flights under ‘air bubble’ agreements. But from Sunday, six Indian airlines will connect 27 countries and 60 international airlines could provide connectivity to 40 countries. Passengers can also take advantage of cheaper connecting flights to a third country, which was not an option under the air bubbles as they only allowed direct travel, although some international carriers have violated this rule. Nearly 54% of passengers worldwide take a direct flight, according to air travel data provider OAG.

IndiGo, the country’s largest airline by number of planes and market share, will increase its daily international flights from 80 on Saturday to 120 and gradually climb to pre–
covid number of 170 daily flights. Its flights to Dubai will double from seven a day to 14. The airline’s only destination in Europe, Turkey, is not expected to open for flights until May. A spokesperson for the airline said it would also open new destinations.

Vistara will increase its flights to London, which it launched during the pandemic along with other long and short-haul destinations, from five a week to one flight daily by May and will restart flights to Bangkok like most airlines Indians given the mad rush for Thailand – it sees the highest number of travelers from India.

The airlines have started serving Frankfurt, Paris and Tokyo over the past two years and say: “Demand across the network has been encouraging, particularly on long-haul routes, and we are exploring opportunities to better serve our customers by adding more flights in the coming months. »

Airline executive says while high fuel prices due to Russian-Ukrainian war ‘could affect travel sentiment, they won’t impact our plans [to restart flights]”.

“96% of searches are for the upcoming summer holiday season; Dubai, Thailand, Maldives, Sri Lanka, London, Paris and Amsterdam top the list of international destinations. Additionally, booking patterns indicate that travelers are increasingly willing to splurge on stays or accommodation. Many are also actively choosing slow travel leading to long stays when planning their first international trip after the pandemic,” according to Vipul Prakash, Chief Operating Officer, at MakeMyTrip Limited.

While Thailand leads Indian travelers’ itineraries, Singapore is in second place, Saudi Arabia in third and the United States in fourth, according to 2018 data from the United Nations World Trade Organization. . Sri Lanka ranks seventh, the UK ninth, Australia 10th and Canada 15th.

Larger fleet size and deeper pockets

Much of this demand is handled by international airlines with larger fleets and deeper pockets. Pre-
covid As of January 19, only 37% of international capacity was provided by Indian airlines, although by 2022 that figure had risen to 42%, according to John Grant, chief analyst at the OAG.

Dubai-based carrier Emirates will return to its pre-pandemic frequencies of 170 flights per week to nine Indian cities from April 1, and has already brought back its largest double-decker A380 jet for flights to Delhi and Mumbai.

British Airways will bring its schedule back to pre-pandemic levels of 53 flights a week between London Heathrow and Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. During the pandemic, he made 20 flights a week. The airline also offers connecting flights to 30 US destinations.

Virgin Atlantic, which has a daily flight from London to Delhi and Mumbai, will add a second daily flight to Delhi from June 1.

Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines will increase their 22 weekly frequencies between Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore with hubs in Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich, to 42 frequencies by July to approach the level of pre-pandemic flights. This also includes Lufthansa flights between Chennai and Frankfurt which resume from April 29.

US airline United Airlines cut flights to India to avoid using Russian airspace after its invasion of Ukraine and suspended Delhi-San Francisco and Mumbai-Newark flights. It continues to fly between Delhi-Chicago and Delhi-Newark and is expected to stick with that plan until the end of May. It will also launch non-stop service between Bengaluru and San Francisco from October 30.

Malaysia Airlines will operate 25 weekly flights to India, in addition to connecting flights to Australia, Singapore and Indonesia from Kuala Lumpur. Thai Airways will have 35 weekly flights.

SriLankan Airlines will double its capacity to 88 flights. It will also offer connecting flights to the Maldives, the Far East and other destinations in its network.

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