Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet is now offering scheduled long-haul services to Europe, capitalizing on demand after the pandemic. The airline will fly to two destinations in Italy from Amritsar using its narrowbody 737 MAX plane, with a stopover in Georgia.

Scheduled flights

For the first time, SpiceJet is offering scheduled long-haul flights to Europe with services to Rome and Milan from Amritsar. According to a Times of India (ToI) report, the carrier will offer twice-a-week service between Amritsar (ATQ) and Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and thrice-a-week flights to Milan Bergamo (BGY).

However, a quick scan of the airline’s official website reflects a slightly different schedule, with some weeks offering one and others two. Nevertheless, these are scheduled flights from SpiceJet open for booking.

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Flight path

Given the range of the 737 MAX aircraft, SpiceJet has arranged for a technical stopover in Tbilisi (TBS) in Georgia, where the operating cockpit and cabin crew will change for the onward journey. The ToI quotes a SpiceJet official as saying,

“We used to operate a lot of charters to North America and Europe during COVID. There is a significant demand to travel on some of those routes on which we used to operate charters. Hence we have started scheduled Italy flights (with a technical halt for fueling and crew change) from Wednesday. This is the first time we will be operating regular scheduled flights to Europe.”

Profitable routes

With these flights to Italy, SpiceJet has become the third Indian airline to offer scheduled services to Europe, after Air India and Vistara. But this isn’t the first time it has ventured into Europe.

During the height of the pandemic, when scheduled flights were severely curtailed, SpiceJet operated a bunch of charter flights – both cargo and passenger – to cater to the demand in the absence of regular services.

SpiceJet Boeing 737 taxis towards takeoff at Mumbai airport

Photo: Getty Images

In August 2020, the carrier wet-leased an Airbus A340-300 aircraft and flew its first long-haul cargo flight to Frankfurt, carrying 45 tons of supplies. The widebody was part of SpiceXpress, the carrier’s freighter arm.

It also wet-leased an A330 plane to operate repatriation flights from other European destinations, including Amsterdam, to bring back Indians stuck overseas during the pandemic.

Why Amritsar?

Amritsar now has scheduled flights to four destinations in Europe. SpiceJet’s flights to two cities in Italy are on top of Air India’s direct services to Birmingham (BHX) and London (LHR).

The demand for overseas travel in the Indian state of Punjab has traditionally been high, particularly to destinations in the UK and Canada. But Lately, Italy has emerged as one of Amritsar’s top destinations in Europe, with hundreds of charter flights from the city to Milan and Rome during the pandemic.

SpiceJet itself operated several weekly charter flights out of Amritsar to Italy along with other carriers, including Hi Fly. With demand for international flights out of Amritsar growing ever so strongly, it makes sense for SpiceJet to milk the opportunity to the best it can.

What are your views on this? Please leave a comment below.

Source: The Times of India


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