In a bid to expand its international operations beyond Asia, the Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet, is now finally making an entry into Europe with new routes to Italy from the Northern Indian city of Amritsar.
The airline is now expanding its international network with introduction of direct scheduled services to Rome (FCO) and Milan Bergamo (BGY) in Italy from Amritsar (ATQ), with a refuelling stop in Tbilisi, Georgia, w.e.f November 2nd and November 5th 2022, respectively.
With the airline’s entry in the India-European air travel market, SpiceJet would now become 3rd Indian carrier to serve this market, after Air India and Vistara.
While this is a big achievement for the airline, Amritsar will now also become the only Tier-2 city in India to have direct connectivity with over 4 destinations in Europe, including, London & Birmingham in the UK and Rome & Milan in Italy.
While you may be curious to read this, SpiceJet is finally making entry in the European market from Amritsar, one of the question arising in readers mind will be, why from Amritsar and why the airline is focusing on the Amritsar-Italy market? Is it going to be another failed attempt for the airline to enter Europe and establish its presence? Do these routes even have any demand? And why this could entirely change the look of direct India-Italy connectivity?
Amritsar-Italy Market: A Savior for SpiceJet?
The COVID-19 pandemic allowed SpiceJet to explore various ways to generate additional revenue to sustain its operations, whether it be initiation of an exclusive cargo arm Spice Express or even the charter operations, those turned out to be super-successful for the airline.
Since August 2020, there have been over an estimated 800 special charter flights operated between Amritsar and Italy, with majority of these flights being operated by SpiceJet.
From wet-leased A321ceo aircraft to A330neo in 2021, and now with 737 Max 8 aircraft, the airline has been and at present utilizing its fleet in the best possible manner on the Amritsar-Italy market.
It could be said that SpiceJet has been able to benefit the most from this market amid the pandemic, with extremely high demand for charter services, guaranteeing a positive cash-in flow for the airline.
From IndiGo to even the Italian Low-Cost carrier Neos, both have served the Amritsar-Italy market with charter services, while the latter continuing to operate these flights. On the other hand, the full service Indian carrier, Air India even operated scheduled non-stop services between Amritsar and Rome, from February to October 2021.
Another Attempt To Enter
In October 2020, SpiceJet had announced plans to establish presence in Europe, with non-stop flights to London Heathrow from Delhi & Mumbai, using wet-leased A330neo aircraft, but the airline failed to launch these services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After almost 2 years, the airline is going for a second attempt to enter the European market, and hopefully the skies look clear for the airline to finally take off. With a well-developed experience of the Amritsar-Italy market, SpiceJet is at an advantage of capturing this market successfully, along with full monopoly.
But how are these routes to Italy performing?
As per the data available, over 20,000 people have travelled direct between Milan Bergamo and Amritsar, on these charter flights, in the 7 months between January-August 2022, excluding May. This nearly equivalents to a traffic of 3,300 passengers per month between the two cities. Similar traffic figures are estimated for the Amritsar-Rome route as well, making the total traffic between Amritsar and Italy to well over 8,000 passengers per month.
As per the schedule available, SpiceJet will be operating once-weekly services to both Rome and Milan Bergamo from Amritsar, deploying up to 2,880 seats per month in total, the airline seems to establish presence in this market steadily. However, while the airline has not officially announced these routes, the booking are available.
Will Delhi-Italy Market Create Doubts For Spicejet?
As the Italian full-service carrier ITA Airways launches non-stop flights to Delhi from Rome in December, the airline will be facing strong headwinds from SpiceJet, even though the both the airlines will be targeting different markets, i.e. Amritsar and Delhi. But why is that?
Italy is the second largest country in Europe with the highest Indian diaspora, after the UK. In numbers Punjabi community being one of the largest, with over 200,000 people from the community residing mainly across the regions of Rome, Milan and Verona. Majority of them working in the profession of agriculture & dairy farming.
With direct services between Rome & Milan Bergamo and Amritsar, ITA Airways would have to face some certain challenges in attracting the point-to-point traffic, as the Punjab’s Italy traffic leakage to Delhi would be minimized. This is also said to be one of the reasons for Air India, to re-route it’s non-stop Delhi-Rome route as Delhi-Amritsar-Rome in February 2021, due to minimized traffic leakage from Punjab to Delhi.
It would be interesting to see that, how these non-stop routes between Delhi and Italy would perform, especially as Air India plans to launch non-stop services to Milan Malpensa (MXP) from Delhi in February 2023.
Could the entry of SpiceJet in Amritsar-Italy market, let Air India launch non-stop services to Italy from Amritsar? Or even attract India’s largest carrier, IndiGo, to this market, as it foresees to expand its network across Europe? The answers to these questions will probably be answered in times to come.
About The Author
Ravreet Singh is a young blogger with an avid interest in aviation business. His ultimate goal is to become an Airline Business Professional. He possess good research, analytical and strategy skills, along with knowledge about various aspects of commercial aviation. He is also the youngest team member of FlyAmritsar Initiative, a public advocacy campaign for better air connectivity & sustainable development of Amritsar.