Jodhpur – the next battle ground for airlines in India!

Low cost carrier – Spicejet, has announced the launch of flights to Jodhpur from Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. This comes amidst Vistara announcing the launch of Jodhpur and IndiGo having started operations at Jodhpur this month.

Spicejet will connect Jodhpur to Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai effective 27th October 2019 and will connect Jodhpur to Pune from 20th November. The airline is pulling out Pune – Kochi and Mumbai – Kochi services to operate to Jodhpur, as the airport at Kochi will see a closure from 20th November 2019 to 28th March 2020 for 8 hours each day – between 1000hrs to 1800hrs.

Vistara will connect Jodhpur to Delhi and Mumbai effective 29th October 2019. IndiGo was the first with flights to Jodhpur from Ahmedabad and New Delhi which started in early September, topping it up with flights from Mumbai which started mid-September.

Jodhpur had a duopoly from Air India and Jet Airways for all these years, until Jet Airways went down, and created a void. With the three airlines now in fray, the capacity on the route has gone up – more than double of what it was when Jet Airways operated to Jodhpur.

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The silver lining is that Jodhpur is largely a winter station with probability of yields being driven up due to seasonal travel. Summers are harsh in Rajasthan which sees only necessary travel while winter attracts good amount of tourist travel, especially foreigners. With a profile mix like this, Vistara could have a slight advantage as it has interline & codeshare agreements in place along with the airline being available for booking on GDS. Spicejet has signed an agreement to board the GDS bandwagon but is yet to get it operationalized while IndiGo is already listed on Travelport but has only one code-share in place currently.

Jodhpur is a frontline airbase of the Indian Air Force with a civil enclave and has restricted watch hours. The city is second biggest in Rajasthan.

The launch of services, again points out to how cut throat the market is in India with everybody flooding flights to the same destination and even same routes. It hardly takes time to replicate competition. Unlike USA and Europe where airlines develop their own niche markets and hubs, India is constrained with the lack of hubs and leads to every airline trying out the same route. This sudden increase in capacity will put pressure on yields which eventually could lead to red ink on the balance sheet.

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