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These cities help Indian airlines make money!

Last updated on: September 10, 2012 08:29 IST

These cities help Indian airlines make money!

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Surajeet Das Gupta in New Delhi

If you have thought that the most profitable international routes for direct flights from India are to the busiest US or European cities, then think again.

For international carriers flying from India, the Delhi-Tokyo (Japan) route offers the highest yield per seat for every kilometre travelled.

War-torn Afghanistan might make many people think twice about visiting that country, but the Delhi-Kabul route is the second most profitable route, according to analysis undertaken by airport developers.

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Image: French troops load the flag-draped coffins of four soldiers onto a French plane during a ceremony at the airport in Kabul.
Photographs: Reuters.

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The yield per seat-kilometre between Delhi and Tokyo, at Rs 14.54, is over three times the yields on Delhi to Singapore, London or New York.

Similarly, the yield on Delhi to Kabul, at under Rs 9, is far attractive than other popular routes. This fact has caught the attention of airlines, too. Many new airlines are planning to introduce new flights on these routes.

Apart from Japanese Airlines that has a direct flight on the Delhi-Tokyo route, All Nippon Airways is also joining the party. Come October, it will start flying between Delhi and Tokyo. Several other airlines fly indirectly with one or two stops.

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Image: ANA aircraft.
Photographs: Masgatotkaca/Wikimedia Commons.

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Last month, budget carrier SpiceJet Ltd started direct flights from New Delhi to Kabul. Prior to that, Air India, Safi Airways Co and Ariana Afghan Airlines were the carriers that offered direct services between the cities.

"Response to our flights on the Delhi-Kabul route is encouraging and is picking up. A lot of passengers from both counties prefer SpiceJet as we are low-cost and affordable airline on the route," SpiceJet spokesperson said.

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Image: Construction workers erect scaffolding at the site of metro station as a SpiceJet Airlines aircraft flies past in Chennai.
Photographs: Babu/Reuters.

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Trade between India and Afghanistan is increasing in recent years, while several Indian companies are involved in construction projects in the neighbouring country.

This enhanced economic ties are raising air travel demand. Besides, people in Afghanistan are coming to India for medical tourism.

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Image: An Afghan man sells ice cream as he walks in front of a Swiss-based Medair office in Kabul.
Photographs: Mohammad Ismail/Reuters.

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If you book today a one-way direct economy flight (seven-and-a-half hours) from Delhi to Narita airport in Tokyo on travel websites for November 1, the ticket will be charged anywhere between Rs 67,000 and Rs 120,000.

Compare it with a direct flight from Delhi to New York by Air India: it takes double the time, but the ticket is available at under Rs 47,000.

A one-way direct economy ticket from Delhi to Kabul for the same day can be yours for Rs 10,745 on low-cost carrier SpiceJet and as much as Rs 29,000 on Air India for the two-hour journey.

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Image: Passengers queue to check into a flight at Narita airport, east of Tokyo.
Photographs: Issei Kato/Reuters.

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Yet, a three-and-a-half-hour flight from the capital city to Muscat, Oman, will cost you Rs 12,941. Another budget carrier, IndiGo, is offering a Mumbai-Muscat flight for Rs 7157.

To be fair, many of these routes can hardly offer the kind of passenger volumes that popular destinations like London, Singapore and Frankfurt can generate.

But airport planners say that with competition for traditional routes so intense, many carriers are now looking at routes which are under-served but where one can generate good margins. 

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Image: A Northwest Airlines passenger jet that was hit by turbulence sits on the tarmac at Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo.
Photographs: Kyodo/Reuters.

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"Airlines and airports have to look at innovative route planning. So for instance, there are so many Japanese companies based in the north, who have to travel to and fro to their headquarters. So there is a large opportunity and not too many direct flights" says an airport planner in one of the country's leading airports.

In the domestic skies, it is the short-haul routes which provide airlines the best yields and not the big metros.

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Image: An IndiGo Airlines A320 aircraft is parked on the tarmac at Bengaluru International Airport.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters.
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So, a flight from Delhi to Chandigarh offers airlines yields that are three to four times a Mumbai-Bangalore flight could generate.

But interestingly, airlines between Delhi and Mumbai still get the highest yields among the metros, surpassing that of Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata - a clear indication that there is scope for more capacity.



Image: Labourers work inside the newly constructed Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters.

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