IndiGo will develop a flight network to Russia and the Central Asian countries during the next few months, a senior official of the airline said on Friday. While scheduled international passenger flight services remain suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic, special international flights have been operating with the permission of aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
During the last few weeks, IndiGo has operated passenger charter flights and cargo charter flights to countries like Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, its Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer Sanjay Kumar said. "The last couple of weeks have given us a great learning on the potential of these markets, which were kind of unexplored from our point of view so far," Kumar said at a webinar titled 'The Way Forward for Developing India-Central Asia Air Corridor' that was organised by industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).
"I think we will be able to build up some kind of portfolio of routes and network into these markets going forward in the next few months' time," he added. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are part of Central Asia. India has never operated scheduled international flights to Central Asia or Russia.
Talking about the charter flights operated to Russia and the Central Asian countries amid the pandemic, Kumar said, "We were quite surprised with the potential of the market because one-way the flight is going full load and on the other way it is coming empty and despite that, we were able to cover all our operational costs from both ends," he added. "I think we will be able to put more and more emphasis going forward looking at the potential of the regular flights into these markets - both on the cargo side and on the passenger side," he said.
Since July, India has established air bubble arrangements with countries like the US, the UK, France, Germany, the UAE, Qatar and the Maldives. Under a bilateral air bubble pact, airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions. Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic. On August 18, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter air bubbles have also been proposed with our neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan. He said India is negotiating air bubble arrangements with 13 other countries.
"These countries include Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand," Puri added..
.(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)