- Only airline to offer incremental capacity without withdrawing existing flights
- Adds flights to gel with the existing network
Wadia group owned low cost carrier GoAir became the latest and possibly the last airline to stake claim over the Jet Airways slots and open flights for sale. The flights were open for sale since yesterday morning and the airline did an official press release late on Wednesday.
While Vistara had the first mover advantage as they announced flights between Bengaluru and Mumbai, later announcing some more. It was quickly followed up by AirAsia India announcing two rotations which would consume slots at Mumbai. IndiGo was next – with the additional flight being accommodated at Terminal 2 at Mumbai. These three airlines cancelled a spate of flights from their existing approved Summer Schedule to accommodate these new flights at Mumbai.
Interestingly, the regulator and the government subsequently said that additional slots should not be consumed by withdrawing approved flights in the summer schedule. Yet, neither of the flights of Vistara, IndiGo or AirAsia India were put on hold by the regulator.
In an unexpected turn of events, Spicejet decided to dry lease aircraft which were currently leased to Jet Airways and start additional operations on both domestic and international routes from Mumbai. This was the first incremental capacity addition in Indian skies. The next came from Go Air – in an organic manner.
Go Air has parked a couple of aircraft at airports around the country – mainly at Kannur. These are the A320ceo, 19 of which are with the airline. The airline as of today has a fleet of 48 aircraft, which comprises of 29 A320neo and 19 A320ceo.
The additional flights which the airline has announced comprises of 4 rotations, with one based at Mumbai and the other three at Delhi.
Rotation 1: BOM – NAG – BOM – AMD – BOM – GOI – BOM – JAI – BOM
Rotation 2: DEL – BOM – IXR – BOM – AMD – BOM – IXC – BOM – DEL
Rotation 3: DEL – LKO – DEL – PAT – DEL – PNQ – DEL
Rotation 4: DEL – NAG – DEL – COK – DEL – NAG – DEL
The delay in finalizing rotations can be attributed to multiple counts. By keeping the aircraft on ground and looking for carriers who are willing to dry lease the A320ceo, the airline was operating a largely profitable operation on domestic circuit. Higher utilization of the A320neo was an add-on when it came to profitability.
Unlike other carriers who had routes available to vacate at a short notice and deploy on more profitable flights ex-Mumbai, Go Air had a larger percentage of network which was profitable and the fall of Jet Airways only helped it further. With grandfather rights, the airline also had a large percentage of its network touching Mumbai or Delhi already, thus withdrawing flights would have become a challenge. You cannot withdraw a flight from Delhi to redeploy it at Delhi!
The rotations and timings show that a lot of research has gone into getting the “network” right and not just dumping capacity when available. The airline gets capacity leadership in the Delhi – Patna – Delhi market, a flight which was launched in 2010 and the airline has nurtured and grown the market since then. It is a big deal to have a capacity higher than IndiGo in any market, while being one fifth its size.
On the Mumbai – Ranchi market, not only does the airline gain capacity leadership, it also starts offering a day return product, which was hitherto absent. On the Mumbai – Chandigarh market, Go Air now matches capacity with IndiGo and offers a day return product, something which IndiGo doesn’t. Likewise, the airline completes a day return product for Jaipur from Mumbai, while starting flights between Delhi and Nagpur which are perfect day return timings, the route which was currently a monopoly route for IndiGo while Air India operates via Raipur.
Interestingly, while social media was abuzz with why Go Air was not acting and how many planes of the airline were grounded, it seems the airline was quietly planning on something which will help them long term. With the resurrection of Jet Airways now looking a distant possibility, these slots may remain with Go Air for good and the network will then be complete for many sectors with these new flights.
The airline has listed out all the new flights and timings on its website.