Vistara to start Jaipur operations this Friday

Vistara – the TATA-SIA joint venture will add Jaipur as its latest destination starting September 30, 2022. This would be the second active destination for the airline in the western state of Rajasthan. The airline operates to Udaipur as a year round destination while it operated to Jodhpur only in winter. However, this year the flights to Jodhpur are not yet open for sale and it could be a possible indication that the airline may not return to Jodhpur. This will break the reign of “not closing a station” for the airline.

The airline is launching Jaipur with double daily flights from Mumbai and the launch comes after months of speculation around its next destination. Surat Airport’s official twitter handle had tweeted that the airline would be starting flights to Surat. 

Flights to Jaipur will operate as per below timings and the airline will deploy three-class A320neo on this route. Jaipur was the only city in top 20 airports in the country where Vistara did not fly! 

Jaipur – the city and airport

The capital of Rajasthan is also the largest city in the state with a population of over 3 million. Popularly known as Pink City, it is part of the Golden triangle of Delhi – Agra – Jaipur and has good road and rail connectivity. Apart from a gateway to other tourist sites in Rajasthan like Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, the city has its own must see places which include world heritage sites. 

For the last financial year, the airport was 15th in terms of traffic in India. The standing improves by four places on the domestic front. Jaipur has been a focus city for SpiceJet and IndiGo. The airport traditionally had footfalls in the range of four and half lakh domestic passengers. While December 2021 saw Goa overtake its pre-COVID numbers, Jaipur could not do the same even at the peak of revenge travel. May recorded best ever numbers since the start of the pandemic, but it would be unfair to look at May traffic since Jaipur is traditionally a winter destination. 

Jaipur is connected to 20 domestic destinations. Delhi, which was thus far the highest in terms of frequencies, will drop to second position and Mumbai would take that place after the launch of Vistara’s flights. SpiceJet operates monopoly routes to Amritsar, Guwahati and Varanasi; IndiGo operates monopoly routes to Bhubaneshwar, Vadodara,Kolkata, Goa, Indore, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Chennai and Udaipur.

On the international side, Thai AirAsia (Don Muong, 5x weekly), AirArabia (Sharjah, Daily), Salam Air (Muscat, 6x weekly), SpiceJet (Dubai, 5x weekly) and Air India Express (Dubai, 3x weekly) are the operators.

By passenger numbers, Mumbai is the densest route with around 1,000 passengers per day each way. This is followed by Delhi and Bengaluru which see around 650 passengers per day each way. The next three are Kolkata, Hyderabad and Pune which see between 350 – 475 passengers per day each way. 

Competition

The Mumbai – Jaipur – Mumbai sector sees three flights a day from IndiGo, two from AirAsia India and one each from Go FIRST and Air India. Go FIRST has a second flight selling in October, going by the booking engine. Vistara’s entry would mean that it would be one more route where the combined TATA power will be bigger than IndiGo. 

Two out of three flights by IndiGo are operated by the A321s giving it an edge in capacity share. As the route begins, assuming Go FIRST does manage to despite its two frequencies as it is in the middle of some groundings, Vistara would have 14.81% capacity on the route. However, in economy class it would have a 12.34% capacity share. Vistara’s first flight of the day will be within an hour of Air India’s flight! 

Come winter, SpiceJet is selling a daily frequency on Mumbai – Jaipur while IndiGo has all its three flights planned on the A321s! 

Network Thoughts

Jaipur is an interesting choice for the airline. It roughly triples the premium seats on the sector, as Air India has one flight and Vistara will add two more. The economy seats in the market will only go up marginally, making it an easier absorption for the market without a need to drop fares significantly. As co-operation starts between Air India and AirAsia India, will the two airlines price their flights at opposite ends of the spectrum?

The existing flight timings to Jaipur give two-way connections from Bengaluru and Hyderabad and a tight connection from Chennai. What will be the next move? Will it be Bengaluru – Jaipur or Hyderabad – Jaipur? My guess, it will be an all economy Bengaluru – Jaipur.

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