Jayant Sinha bats for low-cost long-haul flights to Europe, West Coast

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha batted for low-cost long-haul air connectivity from India. Major low-cost Indian airlines such as IndiGo and SpiceJet are actively evaluating prospects of long-haul flights to European countries.

“We lack a direct low-cost alternative to Europe and the West Coast. International traffic growth from India will be tremendously boosted if low-cost carriers start providing connectivity to Europe,” the minister said at an event organised by aviation consultancy firm CAPA.

Stating that the scope of ultra luxury travel in India is still limited, Sinha cited examples of global low-cost-long-haul airlines such as Norwegian and Scoot, and said that India being a price sensitive market such flights will be immensely popular. “In my discussion with Jet Airways, I came to know that their flights to Europe from cities like Chennai and Bangalore are running full, now Jet is a full service carrier.

So I think a flight to London from say, Kolkata, at competitive price will be interesting,” he said.

Experts supported Sinha’s statement. “If there is any market where low-cost, long-haul can work, it is India,” said Kapil Kaul, CEO, South Asia of CAPA citing its geographic location and a large order pipeline for new long-range narrow body jets. A research by CAPA and online travel firm Expedia said that the launch of low-cost, long-haul flights by Indian airlines will boost outbound leisure travel and open a multi-billion dollar opportunity for carriers. Only 0.3 per cent of Indians currently travel abroad for a holiday every year, a fraction of the estimated 100 million who could potentially afford to do so, CAPA’s analysis of household income shows. Most Indians travel for education, business or to visit friends and relatives.

Tourism spending by Indians could rise to as much as $40 billion by 2027 from about $16.4 billion in 2016, CAPA said, ranking it sixth in the world ahead of Canada, South Korea and Australia.

Low cost airlines like IndiGo and SpiceJet which now fles to international destinations in four-five hour range like Middle East or SAARC coutnries are finalising their plan of wide body operations.