Carrier’s decision to realign some of its point-to-point flights has led to a spike in airfares
Jet Airways has decided to cancel 40 flights on seven uneconomical routes in the Arabian Gulf region
What’s the story?
Jet Airways announced last week it would cancel up to 40 flights on seven Gulf routes. A spokesperson for the Indian carrier told Arabian Business that the airline is realigning some of its point-to-point flights from certain destinations in the Gulf, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Doha, through its hubs in Mumbai and Delhi. Instead of a direct flight from Muscat to Trivandrum, for example, a passenger will fly to Trivandrum from Muscat via Mumbai, the spokesperson said.
Why is it cutting the routes? The decision follows a review of the carrier’s network that will see it move capacity from uneconomical routes to more profitable ones in order to align capacity offered with the demand characteristics of specific markets, according to the spokesperson. “As part of this strategy, Gulf operations are being optimised to focus on connectivity at our hubs in Mumbai and Delhi instead of point-to-point connectivity.”
Why are the routes unviable?
Air fares and passenger load factors have been dropping in some of these Gulf routes, making these operations unfeasible for airlines, Kinjal Shah, aviation sector expert and vice president at ICRA, told Arabian Business. “With mounting losses in their operations in the recent quarter, Indian carriers are taking a hard look at many of the Gulf routes and knocking off routes which are unviable.” She also said there could be flight cancellations by airlines from more destinations in the Gulf region going forward. “This will depend on the cost-return analysis by each airline,” she said. Have other Indian airlines announced route cuts? Low-cost carrier Indigo has also cancelled its flights from Muscat to Calicut and Chennai, but still operates services to Mumbai, Kochi and Ahmedabad. However, aside from Jet Airways and Indigo, no other Indian carriers have yet cancelled flights to any of the destinations in the Gulf region.
How is this affecting travellers? The cancellations are causing major headaches for tour operators in the region. Instead of direct flights, their passengers now have to fly via Mumbai or Delhi, leading to possible additional costs. “The Christmas and New Year season is one of the busiest for us in terms of our tour operations to some of the Gulf countries,” Abraham George, MD of Kochi-based Intersight Tours & Travels, said. “The sudden withdrawal of flights from some of these routes has put us in serious inconvenience, besides jeopardising our cost calculations.”