Muscat: Flyers to India from the Gulf could have more options soon as one airline is in the process of reviewing their international plans and another is in the process of launching its operations following India easing its aviation rules.
“Currently, we are not ruling out any destination and are in the process of reviewing our international plans. We will have more clarity once our plans our finalized,” an official from Vistara told Times of Oman when asked whether Oman is also included in the airline’s expansion plans.
Vistara is a Singapore Airlines’ Indian venture co-owned by India’s Tata Sons.
A Muscat-based aviation industry official said that there are talks in town about Vistara coming to Oman.
“There are talks. But nothing is solid. We have not got any official communication. Budget airlines may do well,” Raji Demonte, the general manager of Universal Travels said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet ratifying its policy changes in aviation on June 15, permitting domestic airlines to fly overseas, provided they deploy 20 planes or 20 percent of capacity, whichever is higher, on local routes has created hope for airlines to look for overseas destinations.
Earlier, carriers needed to have a minimum of 20 aircraft in their fleet and five years of domestic services.
Counting on a surge in international traffic from the world’s fastest growing major air-travel market, Vistara Chief Executive Officer Phee Teik Yeoh told media that the world is their oyster now and they are spoiled for choice.
The carrier’s plans may be the start of a fresh challenge for Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways that have long been the biggest foreign carriers in India and have, along with Air India Ltd. and Jet Airways India Ltd., dominated the market for offshore travel.
Last year, Vistara, had appointed of a travel office as its General Sales Agent (GSA) in UAE to handle ticket sales in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Meanwhile, a group of non-resident Indians (NRI) have launched an airline company and are seriously pondering plans to launch route to Gulf.
“We see a huge potential. Our talks are on. We will come out with an announcement very soon,” a Muscat-based NRI who is playing a vital role in the new airline said.
“The new airline will be known as Denote Airline. India easing the civil aviation plans have enabled us to move fast,” the NRI added.
According to reports, the number of international travelers from India is poised to grow 10-fold to 500 million by 2050.
At least 81 foreign carriers vie for passengers flying to and out of India, with Emirates and Etihad in the lead, followed by others including Qatar Airways Ltd., Singapore Air and Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
In a statement to Times of Oman, Oman Air, the national airline of Oman, said that the dynamic travel industry and forward-thinking aviation sector in India which is currently valued at $16 billion has made it an important market for the airline.
Over the past year in the Indian market, Oman Air has seen an average rate of 80 per cent in seat occupancy and has increased seat capacity by 30 per cent.
Last week, Oman Air’s chief executive officer was quoted as saying by the Indian media that the airline plans to operate 175 weekly flights by 2018 to India.