Two-thirds of Jet Airways ASKs now operating internationally; Saudi Arabia newest territory

Image: Jet Airways route launches
6th August: Jet Airways starts four-times weekly flights between Mumbai and Riyadh. Growth for Jet Airways lies on its international services. In the last reported quarter to June, while overall passenger were down 17.8%, international demand was up 12% and international load factors rose by 12 points to 76.5%.

India’s Jet Airways began commercial operations in May 1993 and rapidly developed its domestic network using a mix of 737s and ATR 72s. International operations only began as recently as March 2004 with flights to India and in May 2005 long-haul flights to the UK began using an A340. The airline now operates a fleet of 85 aircraft including 14 ATR 72s, 49 737s of varying sizes, 12 A330s and 10 777-300ERs. Mumbai is the main base of operation with almost 600 weekly departures followed by Delhi (350), Chennai (240), Bangalore (190) and Hyderabad (120).

Chart: Jet Airways traffic 1997/98-2008/09 - Annual passengers (millions)
Source: Jet Airways, DGCA India

In the airline’s last financial year (year ending 31 March 2009) over 11 million passengers were transported for the second year running. Annual average load factors have varied during the last decade from a low of 61.4% in 2001/02 to a high of 72.0% in 2005/06. Over two-thirds of the airline capacity (as measured by ASKs – Available Seat Kilometres) is now generated by international operations, aided by the airline’s ‘scissor’ hub in Brussels, which is used to serve destinations in North America such as New York and Toronto.

Domestic decline, international growth

According to the airline’s latest quarterly results (April to June 2009) the number of domestic passengers fell by 26.7% while the average load factor declined five percentage points to 67.3%. Break-even load factor stood at around 85%. According to government statistics Jet Airways’ share of the domestic market in June was 16.6%. Including its JetLite subsidiary (formerly Air Sahara) this took the airline group to a market share of 23.9%, just behind Kingfisher with 24.4%.

However, international demand was up 12% and load factors were also up 12 percentage points to 76.5% though break-even load factor was around 83%.
Overall passenger numbers were down 17.8% but load factor was up six percentage points to 73.4%.

Chart: Jet Airways traffic development - Monthly passengers (domestic and international)
Source: Jet Airways, DGCA India

During the period three 737s were removed from domestic operations and allocated to international routes. A new daily service to Dubai was started from Chennai on 23 April while July saw the start of flights to Saudi Arabia (Mumbai to Jeddah) followed by Mumbai to Riyadh which began this week. Other new routes starting shortly are Hyderabad to Dubai (16 August), Mumbai to Dhaka (23 August) and Cochi to Sharjah (1 September).

Apart from the Belgian, Canadian, Saudi Arabian and US services already mentioned Jet Airways also serves destinations in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, UAE and the United Kingdom.

Jet Airways Konnect v JetLite

In May 2009 Jet Airways introduced Jet Airways Konnect, a “new all economy service that offers all the advantages of flying Jet Airways for a whole lot less.” Initially launched using six ATRs and three 737s the operation now operates 10 ATRs and nine 737s and accounts for around one-third of Jet Airways’ domestic capacity. According to the airline the plan is to increase this to around two-thirds by October 2009.

The airline has been careful to ensure that Jet Airways Konnect services are only provided on routes that are not already flown by its low-cost subsidiary JetLite. Apparently the idea of simply transferring more aircraft to the JetLite fleet was rejected as moving assets between two airlines with separate AOCs would have taken too long due to the need to gain regulatory approval for such a move.


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