AirAsia India’s CEO Mittu Chandilya (centre) was on hand to celebrate the airline’s first commercial service on Thursday 12 June, from Bangalore to Goa. The route will be operated daily against five other airlines. The airline’s second route to Chennai, which launches on 19 June, will see competition from six other airlines, and the third route to Kochi (starting 20 July) will also face significant competition.
AirAsia’s latest joint venture, AirAsia India (IATA code I5), operated its maiden commercial flight on Thursday 12 June, when the carrier’s first 180-seat A320 departed from Bangalore for Goa. This route will be served daily and will be joined on 19 June by double-daily flights from Bangalore to Chennai, and on 20 July by daily flights to Kochi. Examining the airline’s schedule data reveals that AirAsia India, which originally announced that it would be based in Chennai, appears to have shifted its base of operations to Bangalore, as that is where the airline’s first aircraft starts and ends the day. Bangalore is India’s fourth busiest airport with 12.87 million passengers in the year to March 2014, while Chennai ranks third with 12.90 million passengers in the same period.
All routes already well served
Competition on the three routes announced so far is intense with five carriers already operating on the route to Goa (with a total of 30 weekly departures), six carriers serving the Chennai market (operating a total of 113 weekly departures), and three carriers serving the Kochi market (33 weekly departures).
||Go Air (7), Jet Airways (7), SpiceJet (6), IndiGo (6), Air India (4)
||SpiceJet (44), Jet Airways (28), JetLite (14), IndiGo (14), Air Costa (7), Air India (6)
||Jet Airways (20), SpiceJet (7), IndiGo (6)
|Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 24 June 2014.
Given the short sectors involved, these four daily flights can easily be flown with just a single aircraft. With the airline planning a 05:55 departure from Bangalore to Chennai, and based on the airline’s schedule data, there is even time for a fifth daily rotation in the middle of the day. AirAsia India apparently has two aircraft at present, so a maximum of 10 rotations per day could be achieved.
AirAsia’s mixed success in India to date
AirAsia’s track record in the Indian market has been mixed so far. While AirAsia serves Bangalore (launched May 2010), Chennai (May 2010), Kochi (November 2009), Kolkata (November 2009), and Tiruchirapalli (December 2008) from its main base in Kuala Lumpur, and Thai AirAsia serves Chennai (launched March 2012) and Kolkata (December 2010) from Bangkok, the airline has also served (and subsequently dropped) routes from Kuala Lumpur to Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram, and Bangkok to Delhi, as well as dropping AirAsia X services from Kuala Lumpur to both Delhi and Mumbai which it launched in 2010.