India's top two airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet going big on small cities

IndiGo and Spicejet have announced new routes across the country mostly connecting Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities

India's top two airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet going big on small cities
SpiceJet and IndiGo aircraft. Image courtesy: Unsplash

As the aviation markets open up post-Covid-19 restrictions, domestic airlines are spreading their wings by adding new regional destinations on their flight map. Both the top-two players in the Indian domestic aviation market IndiGo and Spicejet on Thursday (February 11) announced new routes across the country mostly connecting Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities.

From March 28 onwards, IndiGo would launch 22 new flights connecting regional cities of the country. The move would strengthen the regional footprint of IndiGo, which already dominates the market. It carried 39.52 lakh passengers, which gave it a market share of 53.9% in December 2020, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said. IndiGo had a market share of over 60% in July 2020, when the Covid-19 situation was even more alarming.   

The airline would operate new flights between Agartala-Aizawl under the Regional Connectivity Scheme-Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (RCS-UDAN) and exclusive flights between Bhubaneswar-Patna, Jaipur-Vadodara, Chennai-Vadodara, Bengaluru-Shirdi, Patna-Kochi, and Rajahmundry-Tirupati. 

Officials said IndiGo would also commence flights between Kolkata-Gaya, Cochin-Trivandrum, Jaipur-Surat and Chennai-Surat.

Also read: SpiceJet cruises past Covid-19 clouds, shines brighter than IndiGo

“We are pleased to add 22 new flights, including RCS routes, enhancing connectivity in the southern, western, eastern and northeastern regions. The introduction of these new exclusive routes will further bolster the airline’s domestic network while augmenting inter and intra-regional accessibility,” said Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo.

Kumar added that direct connections between Bhubaneswar and Patna: the ancient cities; Jaipur and Vadodara: the textile hubs; Rajahmundry and Tirupati: the sacred cities would cater to the travel demand in the cities, alongside promoting trade and tourism. 

India's second-largest domestic carrier SpiceJet is not far behind. On Thursday, the airline announced the launch of 24 new domestic flights. It said that it is the first and only airline to connect Ajmer with Mumbai and Ahmedabad with Amritsar.  

The new flights also include four new seasonal flights connecting Jaisalmer, the ‘Golden City’ of India, with Delhi and Ahmedabad. The airline would also launch daily flights on the Ahmedabad–Bengaluru–Ahmedabad, Kolkata–Guwahati and Guwahati–Delhi routes. 

Flights between Ahmedabad-Bagdogra-Ahmedabad and Chennai–Kolkata–Chennai would operate three days a week while flights from Patna would operate five days a week to Bengaluru and twice a week to Surat. Also, flights from Surat to Chennai would operate four days a week.

Also read: IndiGo expects to reach pre-Covid international capacity by end of 2021

While the seasonal flights would operate from February 12 to March 13, 2021, all other flights would commence operations effective February 19 and 20, 2021.  

The airline would deploy a mix of its Boeing 737 and Bombardier Q400 aircraft on these routes.

“We are pleased to announce the launch of 24 new flights on our domestic network. After successfully connecting Ajmer with Delhi, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad we will be launching daily flights connecting Mumbai with Ajmer. SpiceJet will also connect Ahmedabad with Amritsar and we expect a lot of pilgrim and tourist traffic on this route,” Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Commercial Officer, SpiceJet, said.

The airline has also introduced attractive prices on these routes.

SpiceJet carried 9.52 lakh passengers in December 2020 and had a domestic market share of 13%, according to DGCA data.