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The Singapore Airlines Group (SIA Group) will become the largest foreign international airline operator in the Indian market in terms of routes as its medium- and long-haul operation, Scoot, introduces its first three routes into India from its Changi International Airport base in Singapore.
The new services to Amritsar, Chennai and Jaipur, will boost the SIA Group’s international network into India to 15 destinations, served by its mainline business, regional operation SilkAir, low-cost brand Tiger Airways and now Scoot.
Scoot will launch a daily operation between Singapore and Chennai and four times weekly Singapore – Amritsar service from May 24, 2016 and a three times weekly Singapore – Jaipur link from October 2, 2016. An additional fifth weekly rotation to and from Amritsar and a fourth flight to and from Jaipur will be added from July 4, 2016 and November 2, 2016, respectively.
“Scoot is excited to expand our network to India, our latest market, which we have long wanted to operate to,” Campbell Wilson, chief executive officer, Scoot. “We are delighted to enable guests in our network to discover the energy, heart and beauty of India by flying our brand-new 787 Dreamliners to the commercial centre of Southern India, Chennai, and the culturally significant cities of Amritsar and Jaipur.”
SIA Group has grown its presence in India significantly over the past ten years. Singapore Airlines currently offers flights to Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai; SilkAir to Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram and Vishakhapatnam; while Tiger Airways serves Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Tiruchirapally. The group also holds an interest in domestic Indian carrier Vistara.
It is understood that Scoot’s arrival in the Singapore – Chennai market will result in the closure of Tiger Airways’ own flights in order to facilitate the usage of Scoot’s larger aircraft on the route. “The strategy is to build the market using a smaller aircraft (SilkAir and Tiger), growing the market and then operating the airlines with larger aircraft (Singapore Airlines and Scoot),” Bharath Mahadevan, head of India operations, Scoot reportedly told local media.
While there is strong existing competition to SIA Group on the Singapore – Chennai route from Air India, IndiGo and Jet Airways, no other operators currently provide non-stop flights from Singapore to either Amritsar or Jaipur. Interestingly, Singapore Airlines used to serve Amritsar itself using Boeing 777-200ER equipment but suspended service in February 2009.
Schedule data from intelligence provider, OAG, shows that SIA Group has grown its international capacity in and out of India every year this decade, growing from 2.16 million annual seats in 2010 to 3.16 million this year, based on published schedules. This is an average annual rise of 7.6 percent. The historical data clearly highlights how the group has used the smaller aircraft of its regional and low-cost operations to mature the market or to just complement the widebody offering of Singapore Airlines.