Friday, August 17, 2012

NEWS Jet Airways, Air India try to emerge as West-Saarc bridge

Budget carriers SpiceJet and IndiGo are also eying a pie of sixth freedom traffic. The absence of strong airlines in neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka has led to Indian airlines trying to do an Emirates — by bringing traffic from these countries to their hubs in Delhi or Mumbai and then sending them to the West and vice versa — something called sixth freedom in aviation parlance. 

According to Jet Airways, 17% of its 60-lakh annual international travellers last year were people flying between Gulf (and Europe to some extent) and India and then taking connecting flights to and from places like Kathmandu, Dhaka. 

Air India (international) says 1 lakh of its 30 lakh international travellers annually came from this segment and the airline has set a target of 1.25 lakh for this year. "The original target was 1.5 lakh but had to be scaled back due to reduction of flights because of almost two-month-long pilots' strike," said an official. 

Foreign airlines have historically carried almost 66%-80% of all international traffic in and out of India, thanks to a mix of sixth freedom use by mega airlines from Gulf, southeast Asia and Europe and direct point-topoint services offered by them. 

Jet and AI are trying to emerge as a serious option to people flying between the West and SaarcKingfisherdoes not fly abroad. Budget carriers SpiceJet and IndiGo are also eying a pie of sixth freedom traffic. 



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