IndiGo (finally) enters Nashik

IndiGo – the country’s largest carrier by fleet and domestic market share, has announced plans to start services to Nashik, Maharashtra (IATA: ISK). This will be big news for the city since it had seen a sudden drop in services after irregular services by SpiceJet, fall of TruJet and pull out of Alliance Air – which had led to the city nearly dropping off the air map. 

IndiGo once upon a time held rights for flights to Nashik under RCS-UDAN but had returned those rights for various reasons, one of which was inability to fly the A320 from Hindon and lack of slots at Delhi. 

The airline will connect Nashik to Nagpur, Ahmedabad and Goa – Manohar International Airport, MOPA, effective March 15, 2023. The flights will be operated by ATR 72-600, 39 of which are part of the airlines’ fleet and are configured with 78 seats. This will be the 103rd destination for the airline. Flights are now open for sale as per below timings

6E7458 NAG0915 – 1100ISK

6E7457 ISK1935 – 2125NAG

6E7453 ISK1120 – 1310GOX

6E7454 GOX1340 – 1535ISK

6E7455 ISK1545 – 1725AMD

6E7456 AMD1750 – 1915ISK

These flights are being operated with a Hyderabad based ATR which will lead to second daily frequency between Hyderabad and Nagpur, with the rotation operating HYD-NAG-ISK-GOX-ISK-AMD-ISK-NAG-HYD.

Nashik – city and airport

One of the top industrial and cultural cities and the fourth largest urban conglomerate in the state of Maharashtra, the city is situated on the banks of river Godavari. The city hosts the holy Kumbh mela, with the next scheduled for 2027. The city also has mythological background with many tourist sites in and around. The river Godavari originates near Nashik.

On the industrial side, the city is known as the wine capital of India with over 80% of domestic wine being produced or tracing its origin to the region. Large industries include those in automobile and allied manufacturing along with heavy industries. 

Nashik is also flanked by defence establishments and other institutions of national importance like the India Security Press. A large army cantonment at Deolali, a Combat Army Aviation Training School at Gandhinagar Airport in Nashik and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)  factory at Ozar – which also has a civil enclave are some of the well known defence establishments. 

Nashik had air service to Mumbai with Indian Airlines and Vayudoot doing the honours. Maharashtra Span air operated later, with this being HS748, Do-228 and B-1200D respectively. Air service then took a break at Nashik, completely. The next breakthrough came with Air Deccan starting operations and Kingfisher continuing those until almost the very end of the airline

Services returned under the RCS-UDAN scheme but the bad luck of the city continues. Air Deccan started basing an aircraft in Nashik and launched flights to Pune and Mumbai. The airline, which operated the Beechcraft B1200D, could not sustain and went belly up. The services had started towards the end of 2017 and wound up within months.

In June 2018, Jet Airways launched thrice weekly services to Delhi from Nashik with the B737-800. There was a sudden rise in cargo and passenger numbers. Jet Airways went bust in April 2019, less than a year after starting the service.

The subsequent rebidding of routes saw Alliance Air start services to Ahmedabad and Pune, while TruJet started flights to Ahmedabad 

The Ozar airport belongs to HAL, where the Public Sector Enterprise produces frontline Su-30MKI fighters and was set up in the 1960s to produce the MiG-21s. The town is often referred to as Ozar – MiG. There is a small civil terminal, which interestingly does not overlook the apron. It requires a long bus ride to enter the secure zone and the apron, with the terminal (without any facilities) looking like a disconnected separate building. 

SpiceJet took over the routes under UDAN having launched it in the second half of 2020, during the pandemic. The operations remained weak – primarily due to the pandemic and subsequent rules for flying. The airline connected Nashik to Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru; followed by Kolkata before stopping operations and re-starting. As of today, SpiceJet operates to Ahmedabad and Delhi while Star Air has temporarily suspended its Nashik operations – which were from Belgaum.

Network Thoughts

I have always felt that IndiGo waits for validating its market. While it may be the largest player with an unending supply of capacity, it still does not get into a market aggressively until and unless it is tested by somebody else. While the world moves towards a blue ocean strategy, IndiGo on the other hand is waiting for somebody else to test the market, build the market and then the airline enters to take away the market. Nashik is not the first destination where it is doing so.

IndiGo could well connect to Delhi and Bengaluru in the next phase of expansion. It already has a mini hub at Ahmedabad from where it will offer one stop options to Delhi and other metros. The next bet could be Bengaluru – which opens up connectivity to entire South India and Hyderabad – whenever the RCS-UDAN period ends for SpiceJet. 

As of now, the networks of IndiGo and SpiceJet are exclusive at Nashik, but that may not be the case for eternity. How SpiceJet guards this station or does it get pushed around will need to be seen. If past performance is an indicator, SpiceJet will find the onslaught tough to handle. 

Nashik, finally has a dependable airline. An airline which has a history of not closing a station and an airline which is known to grow. Hopefully the city can live up to this and see the benefit of air connectivity without complaining about high fares!


2 thoughts on “IndiGo (finally) enters Nashik

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