India’s largest airline by fleet IndiGo has got approvals to fly to Chengdu and Guangzhou in China. The airline has received this approvals from Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The airline intends to operate flights between Delhi and Chengdu while Guangzhou will be connected from Kolkata. The information was first provided by VariFlight – a Chinese company providing data analytics for On-Time Performance of airlines and the team also helped translate the CAAC circular.
CAAC’s data which is in Chinese shows that the airline has approval to start “daily” operations between Delhi and Chengdu as well as Kolkata and Guangzhou. This comes on the backdrop of not so good history of airlines from India being able to sustain Chinese operations for a mix of reasons, which include distribution challenges in China.
Guangzhou is third busiest airport in China and has three operational runways along with 170+ bays. China Southern has its base at Guangzhou airport and operates to Delhi. The city is considered one of the most prosperous in China. It is a sister city of Ahmedabad.
Chengdu Airport is one of the important hubs of Air China and headquarters for Sichuan Airlines and Chengdu Airlines and is the fourth busiest airport in mainland China. The airport has two parallel runways and currently does not have a non-stop service to India. The city is an important base for manufacturing in China and has attracted IT, Logistics and Electronics industries. The area also has large automobile and defense industries. Interestingly the city has sister city agreements with Agra and Bengaluru.
IndiGo has been expanding rapidly on is International sectors and started eight new international stations in 2018. While India – China trade has been growing over the years, the geo-political reasons have kept the flight service in the doldrums. The two countries have the highest population in the world, on the top of the table for GDP growth and leaders in manufacturing and Information-Technology services.
Only recently did Chinese carriers become aggressive in the market offering cheap fares to America. The India – China bilateral is capped to 42 services per week, with Air India being the only carrier which operates 5x weekly services from India side. The Indian National carrier operates to Shanghai from New Delhi. The Chinese carriers have exhausted their quota with Air China operating 5x weekly to New Delhi and 4x weekly to Mumbai. China Eastern operating a daily service to Delhi and 8x weekly to Kolkata and China Southern operating 14x weekly to New Delhi. The points which are connected are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming.
With IndiGo already having a code-share operation in place with Turkish Airlines, it will be interesting to see if the airline also goes ahead and signs up for a code-share with one or more carriers from China. The operations from Kolkata will be a huge fillip to the city and the airport which has lagged international expansion as compared to other metro cities in the country. It is unclear as to when the airline will announce and start operations. Chengdu is 2604 kms from New Delhi while Guangzhou is 2547 kms from Kolkata, all within the range of the A320neo. Spicejet has operated flights to Guangzhou in the past and Jet Airways has operated flights to Shanghai. Both Spicejet and IndiGo currently operate to Hong Kong.