After being designated as the only Scheduled Private Airline to be able to fly on India-US route, Spicejet has now been given the approval as a scheduled airline which will be able to fly India-UK international flights. This makes Spicejet the only private airline that has been given permission to fly as part of an ‘Air Bubble’ for international flights to the UK as well as the US. Up until now, only Air India was allowed to fly on both these routes.
Ajay Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, SpiceJet said, “After the United States, SpiceJet has now been designated as an Indian scheduled carrier to operate to the United Kingdom. The UK and the US are two of the top international destinations for airlines and we are delighted to have got this designation to operate to these two countries”
Recently, SpiceJet was designated as Indian Scheduled carrier for the flight services to the US, making it the only private Indian air carrier in India and only the second airline after Air India to operate flights to the United States under the air bubble agreement.
In a letter to BSE, Spicejet had said - "This is to inform you that in terms of the Air Services Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America, SpiceJet has been designated as Indian scheduled carrier to operate on agreed services between India and the USA."
Spicejet currently operates single-aisle narrow-body aircraft for its domestic flights and also international operations to the gulf countries under Mission Vande Bharat. However, for operations to the US, they would need wide-body aircraft.
SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh earlier said that all Indian airlines need to start looking for wide-body aircraft now as it would allow them to take passengers directly from India to different parts of the world.
In India, only Air India and Vistara have wide-body aircraft like B787 in their fleet. All other airlines have narrow-body aircraft or even smaller regional aircraft in their fleet.
"I think we all as Indian carriers need to look at a wide-body option now. But it has to be supported strongly by government policy. If you are going to allow the network carriers, people who are in the Gulf and in the Far East to just keep billions of dollars from their government and keep undercutting us, then it is very difficult to do (operate wide-body aircraft)," he said at a webinar.
During the pre-COVID era, the majority of international air traffic in India was being handled by foreign carriers. A significant section of air traffic of Gulf carriers like Etihad and Emirates used to come from India.
Wide-body aircraft like B787 and A350 have bigger fuel tanks that allow them to operate long haul flights. Narrow-body aircraft like A320 and B737 are for short-haul or medium-haul flights. Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.
Under the fourth phase of Vande Bharat Mission, Air India has announced 180 flights to the US.
In June the US Department of Transportation (DoT) had said that it would restrict charter flights from India, accusing New Delhi of engaging in "discriminatory and restrictive practices".
Following the announcement, the Civil Aviation Ministry said that it has received requests from several countries, including the US, France and Germany for allowing their air carriers to participate in the transportation of passengers along the line being conducted by Air India under the Vande Bharat Mission and that the ministry was examining the requests.