IndiGo eyes more UAE, Saudi flights as part of Middle East expansion

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India’s largest passenger airline IndiGo has drawn up plans to launch additional flights to the Middle East, mainly to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, during the forthcoming winter schedule.

The Indian budget carrier may also enter into a code-sharing deal with one of the Middle East-based airlines as part of its ambitious plan to grow its international operations, a senior executive of the airline told Arabian Business.

“The Middle East sector is a focus sector for us for our international operations. We are currently the second largest carrier from India operating in this sector in terms of seat capacities and frequency,” said Willy Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer of IndiGo.

“We have plans to launch several new and additional flights in this sector in the coming months,” he added.

Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Dammam are among the Gulf destinations IndiGo is considering for new or additional flights in the immediate future, the report said.

International Expansion

“About 65 per cent of our international operations are to the Middle East sector. As we focus on growing our international operations in the coming months, we will be adding many more flights in this sector (Middle East),” Boulter said.

IndiGo announced the launch of direct flights to Dammam from Mumbai from mid of July but has not been able to start operations due to regulatory approval issues.

The airline had earlier said that 50 per cent of its expansion in 2019 will be from international growth. Currently, international services account for 25 per cent of the carrier’s overall operations.

IndiGo, along with other Indian carriers that fly internationally, benefitted in June this year by way of allotment of additional flying slots and seat capacities in the Gulf – and some other international destinations – from the quota of the grounded Jet Airways.

The additional flying slots, allotted by India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), are valid until end December this year but are expected to be extended further with little hope of revival for Jet Airways.

IndiGo currently operates to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Doha and Kuwait from multiple cities in India.