Jet Airways Gets A Lift As Government Allows French Carriers To Expand Reach

NEW DELHI: India has allowed French airlines to operate flights to 29 destinations across the country through code share with Indian carriers, up from four at present, a move that will primarily benefit cash-strapped Jet Airways

“Jet Airways and Air India had favoured this expansion from the Indian side and said that they would get passengers from flights of French carriers,” said a person aware of the matter, who did not wish to be identified. 

This will help Jet Airways garner extra passengers and revenue since it has an enhanced cooperation agreement with Air France-KLM. French carriers are currently allowed to operate code-share flights to Ahmedabad, Goa, Amritsar and Kochi. Following the government’s go-ahead, the number of destinations will increase to 19 in the first phase and another 10 in the second phase, the person said. 

Allowing code-share flights would enable Air France-KLM to sell tickets up to destinations in India where the French carrier does not fly but its Indian code-share partner flies. The pact between Jet Airways and Air France-KLM, signed in November 2017, gave the Mumbai-based carrier wider access to Europe and North America. The partnership significantly boosted Air France-KLM’s access to the Indian market, which is among the world’s fastest-growing. 

KLM CEO Pieter Elbers had in September said that the airline was looking at expanding its alliance with Jet Airways to “the next level in terms of customer interface”. As part of the agreement, Indian carriers will get routing flexibility at French airports. “Routing flexibility would allow Indian carriers to transfer their passengers to a partner airline for onward flights beyond the airports in France, which may include those in the US and Canada,” said the person cited earlier. 

If this happens, Jet Airways stands to gain as it can use the network of the US carrier Delta Air Lines to transfer its passengers to onward flights to the US. However, the French authorities rejected the Indian government’s request for “open skies” with India. Such an arrangement would have allowed French carriers to add unlimited number of flights to six key destinations in India. 

The current bilateral agreement for flying rights between the two countries allows carriers to launch 35 weekly services each. While Indian carriers — Air India (7 services) and Jet Airways (21services) — operate 28 services a week, French carriers operate 19 services a week. 

Aviation regulator DGCA has approved the flight schedule of Jet Airways for five months, according to a senior official. Grappling with financial woes, the carrier has delayed salary payments to its staff; and on Sunday, it cancelled flights after some of the pilots reported “sick” over nonpayment of their dues. 

Responding to queries about Jet, the official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said on Wednesday that approval has been given for the airline’s flight schedule for five months, including December. This clearance was given in mid-November, he added. The winter schedule for airlines is from last Sunday of October till last Saturday of March. The watchdog monitors operations of an airline through a systematic procedure of surveillance, regulatory audits and spot checks. 

Jet Airways Group operates around 124 aircrafts, including Boeing 777-300 ERs, Airbus 330-200/ 300 and Boeing 737 Max 8. The airline is working on ways to reduce costs as well as raise funds. Last month, Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube said the airline was in active discussions with various investors to secure sustainable financing and cost optimisation efforts that have resulted in savings worth `500 crore in the first half of the current fiscal. 

Source: The Economic Times

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