JetLite, the low-fare arm of India’s leading private airlines, Jet Airways, is aiming to launch its Middle East operations by the middle of this year, according to a senior airline executive.
Jet Airways, which launched its Middle East operations in January this year, will also be launching flights to Dubai by the middle of 2008. The Indian carrier last week announced the launch of its Abu Dhabi route, its first UAE destination, starting April 23, with daily services between Abu Dhabi and the Indian cities of Mumbai and Delhi.
“We are hopeful we would be able to launch flights between Dubai and India by the middle of this year, subject to government approval,” Shakir Kantawala, Jet Airways’ regional manager for sales and marketing, told Emirates Business.
The talks are yet to be held between the two civil aviation authorities – in India and Dubai, with regards to the permission for Jet Airways to get flying rights for Dubai as well as JetLite.
“We have asked for permissions from the Government of India for launching JetLite into the Middle East. We are positively looking forward to it,” said Kantawala.
As for JetLite, which was originally scheduled for a March 2008 launch in the Middle East, the plan is to tap all the existing Jet Airways routes in the region, according to Kantawala.
These include Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. It would also in the future launch services to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, when Jet Airways begins its operations into more UAE cities.
“For Sharjah, however, we would look to tap the market with JetLite and not Jet Airways,” Kantawala said.“The budget carrier sector is something that was waiting to happen and open up for a long time. And now it has happened.
With the Al Maktoum International airport’s dedicated low-cost terminal facility coming up, the future of budget carriers in the region look promising,” he added.
Meanwhile, for Jet’s Dubai operations, while no exact details are available at the moment – with regards to Indian destinations, the number of fights and so on, the airline’s chief executive, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, had told Emirates Business last year:
“In major markets such as Dubai, we could operate double-daily flights”.He had also said that after launching flights from Mumbai and Dubai, Jet Airways would also look at flying into South India from the Gulf because of the huge demand.
Asked about the returns Jet Airways expects from the Middle East routes, Prock-Schauer had said: “The Gulf is a very profitable route right now and we feel that we can make profits flying into Gulf countries.
“We have so far been quite successful on our international routes and thus we expect profitability on the Middle East route as well.”
JetLite plans regional service by mid-2008