India’s second largest budget carrier, SpiceJet Ltd., is exploring partnerships with global low-fare carriers as part of its second phase of international expansion.
The airline currently flies to only two international destinations – Kathmandu, Nepal, from Delhi and Colombo, Sri Lanka from Chennai – and has plans to start flights to 10 more international destinations including South Asian and West Asian countries.
“The proposal is in its nascent stage. We are analyzing the routes and other aspects,” a SpiceJet spokesman tells Aviation Week. It would not identify the airlines with which it is negotiating.
The airline also is holding discussions with two airports in South India and one in the western state of Gujarat to start its regional services usingaircraft, which are smaller than the and aircraft that form the mainstay of its domestic fleet.
The airline has already selected Hyderabad as the hub for its regional operations. “We are awaiting approval from the civil aviation ministry,” the company spokesman says. The carrier is planning to enter those international destinations where no Indian low-cost carrier currently operates.
SpiceJet launched its first international flight last October to Kathmandu after receiving permission to operate flights there. At the time, it also received authority to operate to Dhaka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, two destinations it is not now serving. An airline in India must complete five years of domestic operations and should have a fleet of 20 or more aircraft before it is allowed to fly abroad.
According to Indian media reports, SpiceJet expects to increase its fleet size from 29 to 43 by the end of this fiscal year. Theaircraft will increase from 29 to 32 and the rest will be 78-seat Q400s. The airline aims to have a fleet of 70 aircraft, a mix of 45 Boeing and 25 Q400 aircraft, by the end of 2013.