By , Published on August 11th, 2022 in Blog, News

It’s been over 18 years since, Singapore Airlines, first launched its non-stop services to the Northern Indian city of Amritsar from Singapore. For the airline, Amritsar was yet another important route to expand its network and build its strong presence in India, but for Amritsar, it was not just another airline, but an important part to boost its progress in becoming a major international market.

A few months into the launch of the route, it was no doubt that, Amritsar was already a successful route for the airline, as it benefited greatly from the large feeder traffic to support and develop its existing routes to the West Coast of US and Australia from Singapore.

Singapore Airlines 777-200ER

During the years of 2005-2008, the Amritsar-US & Canada markets were on the rise as, while Singapore Airlines was able to get a strong hold of it’s Vancouver and Los Angeles markets, Air India was enjoying its extremely successful route to Toronto via Birmingham from Amritsar. All thanks to the exponential rise in the immigration of Indian Punjabi community to North America and Europe.

The future of the Singapore Airlines from Amritsar was promising, but not for long. After of 5 years of successful operations, the great economic recession of 2009, forced Singapore Airlines to restructure its network and capacity on several routes, which also let the airline to withdraw its services from both Amritsar and Vancouver in early year 2009.

This led to a great decline in the overall international traffic growth at Amritsar, and eventually a steep rise in the leakage of Punjab’s international traffic to Delhi.

Qatar Airways Arrives At Amritsar

While one elite carrier had to exit the market of Amritsar, soon, the Doha-based carrier Qatar Airways launched its services to the city of Amritsar. The arrival of Qatar Airways at Amritsar, was at a time when Amritsar was on the verge of losing much of its direct international connectivity with North America and Europe, including, London and Toronto by Air India, due to introduction of Hub & Spoke policy by the airline to only develop Delhi and Mumbai as their hubs.

Picture Source: Qatar Airways

Over the past 13 years, the airline has been successfully able to build its brand presence and passenger loyalty, along with benefitting from the large feeder traffic for its large network across North America and Europe, from the airport. However, Amritsar being a bilateral constrained airport for all Middle Eastern airlines except Qatar, and much of European airlines, this also led to a greater advantage for the airline at Amritsar.

Amritsar: A Top Feeder Market For Qatar Airways

According to a report published by Qatar Airways, in the year 2015, Amritsar was the top 11th feeder destination for its services between New York and Doha.

This was even after the fact that, the airline is permitted to only serve 1,239 seats per week one-way from Amritsar, as per Bilateral Air Service Agreements between India and Qatar. This had constrained the airline to only operate A320/A321 aircraft to/from Amritsar, since the past 13 years.

According to the data available, between the years 2009-2019, the airline has served over 1.05 million passengers between Amritsar and Doha, with an estimated 90% of this traffic being feeder traffic to/from the airlines European and North American network.

Apart from New York, Amritsar is also said to be one of the top feeder markets for Qatar Airways other destinations, including, Montreal, San Francisco and London.

The world leading carriers such as Emirates, Flydubai, Turkish Airlines, etc had always been greatly interested to serve the market of Amritsar but none were able to, due to the restrictions in Air Service Agreements with India.

While no airline was able to become the next Qatar Airways for Amritsar, as to connect it across the globe and benefit from large feeder traffic, could Singapore Airlines earn that title? Could the airline make its entry back in the market of Amritsar itself, along with its low-cost subsidiary already ruling Amritsar’s South East Asia and Australia market at present?

Amritsar: An Important Market For SIA Group

The Singapore International Airlines Group made a comeback in the market of Amritsar in the year 2016, but this time with its low-cost airline, Scoot. The airline launched its services to Amritsar from Singapore with twice-weekly Boeing 787-9 services.

With even an ever-developed market between Amritsar and South-East Asia & Australia during this time, both Scoot and Singapore Airlines greatly benefited from the large feeder traffic. Just like the year 2004, it was no doubt that, Amritsar was already a successful route for Scoot as well.

Picture Source: Singapore Airlines

The potential of Amritsar’s South-East Asia and Australian market can be known from the fact that, by 2018, Scoot and the Malaysian based carriers, Malindo and Air Asia X, were all operating together in the market of Amritsar.

The Amritsar-Singapore/Kuala Lumpur-Sydney/Melbourne were particularly the most popular routes among the Australian Punjabi community and even for Scoot and Air Asia X.

By 2019, Scoot was operating over 5x weekly Boeing 787-9 services between Singapore-Amritsar, Air Asia X over 5x weekly A330-300 services between Kuala Lumpur-Amritsar and Malindo over 4x weekly services with Boeing 737-8/9 aircraft. According to an estimate, over 1,500 passengers travelling daily between Amritsar and South-East Asia & Australia with the above carriers.

In March 2020, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scoot, Air Asia X and Malindo had to suspend operations from Amritsar, because of the restrictions imposed by India.

Scoot Strengthening Amritsar’s Market

In February 2022, Scoot, become the first South-East Asian carrier to resume its operations from Amritsar, as the restrictions were eased by both India and Singapore.

The airline made a comeback with 3x weekly 787-8 Dreamliner services. Since then, the airline has been successful in capturing Amritsar’s large South-East Asia and Australian market, along with ramping up it’s frequency to 5x weekly, and yet is now eyeing new market to capture from Amritsar; the North American.

Amritsar’s North American market yet still remains a highly underserved market. With over 2.6 million Punjabi diaspora across the US and Canada, and no direct connectivity, along with limited one-stop options, Amritsar is losing all this traffic to Delhi. According to an estimate, over 80% of Delhi’s total North American traffic in the year 2019, either originated or ended in the state of Punjab.

Scoot along with Singapore Airline’s, is now connecting Amritsar conveniently with Vancouver, San Francisco and Seattle on the west coast of US, via Singapore. However, Scoot, at present is experiencing certain operational constraints to capture a major proportion of this market.

Picture Source:

One of the major factors being the timings of it’s and Singapore Airlines flights to/from Amritsar and Vancouver, San Francisco & Seattle at Singapore for minimizing the layover times at Singapore for both inbound and outbound connectivity.

For a convenient connectivity to/from Singapore Airlines North American network, Scoot will need to readjust its timings and scale up the frequency on Singapore-Amritsar route.

However, if SIA Group becomes interested in capturing Amritsar’s North American market, what more options are available?

Time For Singapore Airlines For A Comeback At Amritsar?

It’s been over 13 years since; Singapore Airlines exited the market of Amritsar. Over these years, the markets between Amritsar and Vancouver, San Francisco, Seattle, etc have not only developed in terms of traffic, along with exponential rise in demand for premium cabins, but yet the most important, yields as well.

In the recent months, Singapore Airlines, have been expanding rapidly across South Indian cities to support and develop it’s network beyond Singapore.

According to analysis, considering the factors including feeder traffic, yields and other technicalities, Singapore Airlines could successfully make a comeback in Amritsar and enjoy from a large feeder traffic for its North American network, which will not only support it, but yet give Singapore Airlines opportunity to even expand their operations.

At present, the right type of aircraft for the airline on Singapore-Amritsar route would be the Boeing 737 Max 8, considering the premium traffic demand and pattern. This will not only let the airline capture Amritsar’s North American market, but yet also a huge premium market for Australia.

However, the most viable option with both Scoot and Singapore Airlines could probably be a strategic mutual agreement between them, to capture and get a strong hold over Amritsar’s these markets.

In this way, it could probably pave a way for Singapore Airlines to make a successful comeback at Amritsar, without causing any conflict of interest with Scoot. This will require a strategic planning by both the airline, but at the end it will definitely be worth to explore.

The market of Amritsar is a unique market and one could do wonders from it, if a in depth knowledge of this market exists.

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Comments 3

  1. August 11, 2022

    Singh Navdeep

    It’s a really good job. i think Singapore Airline will start to Toronto shortly..becouse to much indian community in Toronto..

  2. August 11, 2022

    Singh Navdeep

    We will always happy if more international flights from Amritsar..

  3. August 11, 2022

    Ramesh Arora

    I visited through Singapore Airline from Amritsar to sfo from 2007 onward six times that was really good Airline

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