IndiGo – the country’s largest carrier by fleet and domestic market share, will launch flights to Bahrain next Monday (August 01, 2022). The airline said this will be its 25th international destination. The airline will operate daily non-stop flights between Mumbai and Bahrain with its A320 family aircraft. The airline had announced this route in early July. Bahrain was the only missing link in IndiGo’s network amongst the six GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.
The flights will operate at below timings
6E1403 BOM2215 – 2335BAH
6E1404 BAH0100 – 0720BOM
IndiGo operated 24 international destinations before the pandemic. Currently, the airline has returned to all except Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Yangon. This is largely due to the current restrictions in China and Hong Kong and Yangon seeing a change in government post the military coup.
Bahrain is a small island nation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. India and Bahrain have diplomatic, cultural, socio-economic and military ties. There is a population of around 350,000 Indians in Bahrain, which is half of the number of Indians in neighboring Qatar.
While the economy is heavily dependent on Oil and Gas, the country has been investing in getting into Banking and Tourism by promoting UNESCO world heritage sites, theme and water parks and wildlife reserves.
The Air Services Agreement allows airlines to fly to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Trivandrum, Kochi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kozhikode and Goa.
Bahrain International Airport is the only civilian airport in the country and thus its primary gateway to the outside world. The airport post expansion can handle 14 million passengers annually. To get a context, Mumbai – from where these flights are being launched, handled 45 million passengers in FY20. The airport is a hub for Gulf Air.
While Gulf Air and Air India express are significant players in the India – Bahrain market, Jet Airways had a presence in the market. The airline had launched flights to Bahrain in 2008/9 and later had a codeshare with Gulf Air.
IndiGo will be the smallest player in the India – Bahrain segment, something which the airline is not used to in the domestic segment.
Data for Q4 of CY19, the last full quarter of international operations shows that the traffic between India and Bahrain was 1,58,655 while that between Bahrain and India was 1,76,968. The market is dominated by Gulf Air as the airline catered to 85% of this traffic. The largest markets have been Delhi, followed by Mumbai.
IndiGo is not known to operate such a small operation anywhere. While it has had certain international sectors with limited flights, this looks like an entry point into Bahrain from Mumbai – where there is no other Indian carrier operating.
There are limited connections to South East Asia from Bahrain, an indication that there isn’t as much traffic. The timings suggest that the flight is well placed for incremental flying and targeted towards the NRIs flying home. The current time also provides good two way connectivity from Mangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru. The terminal transfer though remains a pain, but something which is beyond the control of the airline.
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