Indian low-cost airline SpiceJet had stated yesterday that it is planning to rent a Hi-Fly Airbus A330neo. This step was taken to bring back Indian nationals stranded in Europe. According to a tweet issued by the airline, the licensed flight will be SpiceJet’s first long-haul international flight. It will depart from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) on 1st August.
The flight will be a wet-lease charter, meaning that the Portuguese operators’ crew will fly it on behalf of the budget carrier. We understand the flight will depart Amsterdam at 14:30 on 1st August and arrive at Bengaluru at 03:00 the following day. It will then fly on to Hyderabad, arriving at 05:30.
SpiceJet plans to use the A330neo for repatriation.
While speaking about the repatriation flight and further use of the 371 seat aircraft a spokesperson for the airline said:
“This A330-900 can do India-US non-stop. We plan to utilise it initially for charters to wherever the demand is for. Later it may be used for scheduled flights under the travel bubbles India is forming with some countries. That is an option. For now, it will be used for charters that can be booked by any organisation or NGO.”
When the plane leaves Amsterdam on Saturday, it will mark the first time that an Indian low-cost airline has operated a long-haul flight. It shows SpiceJet’s plan to offer cheap flights to Europe and North America in the future.
SpiceJet has authority to fly to the US and UK.
Last week, Spicejet received authorisation to fly to the United States and the United Kingdom. It is reportedly trying to acquire coveted landing slots at London Heathrow (LHR). By wet-leasing what is, in effect, a brand new aircraft SpiceJet is stepping its foot in the international long haul aviation industry.
Currently, the flag carrier Air India is the only Indian airline offering widebody long-haul worldwide flights. Given Air India’s financial situation, it is not surprising that other Indian carries are looking to compete with it in the long-haul market place.
Vistara is also looking at long-haul flights.
Singapore Airlines’ joint venture with Tata, Vistara has acquired a Boeing 787-Dreamliner. It will soon take delivery of a second as it looks to expand its track. So far, the aircraft has only been deployed on domestic routes due to COVID-19 but will be put on longer international routes once it is safe to do so.
For many Indian carriers, openings at London Heathrow remain the gem in the European crown. Getting landing rights there is a priority for Vistara when it initiates flights to Europe.
Given the current situation around the world, Indian citizens are preferring to fly non-stop to international destinations rather than having to change planes in the Gulf countries. The fear is that should the virus force the UAE or Qatar to lockdown, they could become stuck or unable to connect when trying to get home.
Should SpiceJet manage to get a London Heathrow opening, it could prove to be a gamechanger. It would make the carrier the only low-cost offering non-stop flights between the Indian subcontinent and the United Kingdom.