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Scoot seeks flying rights to add more flights for India

Livemint:  May 25, 2016

Chennai: Scoot Pte, the low-cost airline from the Singapore Airlines Group, which started flying from Singapore to Amritsar and Chennai on Tuesday said it wants the Indian government to open up traffic rights to tap growing demand.

Foreign airlines need flying rights—called bilaterals—from the Indian government to add more flights or to fly more cities. “We want as much as possible,” said Bharat Mahadevan, India head of Scoot.

“There is a huge amount of latent demand that can’t fly because there are no seats. We had to pull Tiger out of Chennai to accommodate Scoot; as only certain number of seats can be operated per week out of Chennai. We have completely used up our rights in Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi and that is why we are focusing more on the tier 2 cities, where there are no restrictions,” said Mahadevan.

Scoot takes over the Singapore-Chennai daily service from short haul low-cost carrier Tigerair, expanding capacity to Chennai for the SIA group with its new Boeing 787 dreamliner. Singapore Airlines has been operating a daily flight from Chennai for the last 15 years.

“This hasn’t grown and has remained as one flight per day. So, we would definitely want more traffic rights given to us to fly to metro cities,” said Mahadevan.

Singapore Airlines Group also owns full service airline Silk Air and Tigerair. All of them fly to India. Tiger Airways was delisted earlier this month from the Singapore Exchange after parent SIA bought out its shareholders.

Scoot has started flying thrice weekly to Amritsar and plans to add one more flight from July. It will also commence Singapore-Jaipur services four times per week from October.

“India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world and Scoot is excited to present exceptional value,” said Leslie Thng, chief commercial officer for Scoot and Tigerair.

“We don’t compare IndiGo and SpiceJet as our competitors. People like Jet Airways (India) Ltd and Air India Ltd who operate bigger aircraft and full service are our competitors. It’s very different when you fly on a big aircraft and on that aspect, Boeing 787 will be the true differentiator,” said Mahadevan.

Scoot executives are betting on their wide network. “We offer a huge network. We are targeting destinations like China, Australia, Bali which no other low cost carrier can do,” added Mahadevan.

“We won’t be able to fill out our seats with such a big aircraft just by flying between Chennai-Singapore. But when we have passengers to other destinations like— Australia, Hong Kong, China, etc., then the load factors will automatically improve,” said Mahadevan.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), India is projected to be the world’s third largest air passenger market by 2031 with a total of 367 million passengers by 2034, an extra 266 million annual passengers compared to today.

With Scoot’s entry, Singapore Airlines Group will be present in all four spaces— premium (Singapore Airlines), full service (Silk Air), low cost (Tiger Airways) and low cost-cum-medium haul (Scoot).

The India-Singapore route has been tough for international airlines. AirAsia X and Jetstar Asia had to discontinue Indian operations owing to losses. IndiGo, run by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, had to realign its India-Singapore flights.

Scoot offers no-frills, seat-only fares and charges products and services separately. The airline operates wide-bodied Boeing 787 planes, also known as Dreamliners.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.