SpiceJet to launch Riyadh flights by Oct - CEO

Indian carrier will add Saudi capital and Guangzhou to int'l network

Travel, Spicejet

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet will begin a daily service to the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh from its hub in Delhi by October, the airline’s head told Arabian Business.

The Chennai-based carrier, which launched its third international service to Dubai in June, will also begin flying to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou around the same time, CEO Neil Mills confirmed on Wednesday, following media reports last month.

“We’ve got Guangzhou in China and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia coming next,” he said. “They should be done by the end of September but certainly October." The Delhi-Riyadh route will be served by one of SpiceJet's Boeing 737 aircraft.

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Mills added that the Dubai service, which flies from both Mumbai and New Delhi was “performing just fine”. “The weakness that everybody said was on that route, we’ve not seen. With the product that we offer and the pricing that we offer, there’s been a lot of demand on that route,” Mills said, adding that were currently no plans to increase capacity on the service.

Mills said SpiceJet was currently not assessing any other Gulf routes. “Not at the moment. Certainly not for this season, but we may look next season," he commented.

He added that the airline had applied for "another eight to ten routes... on an international basis," but did not disclose where as the carrier was still negotiating with the Indian civil aviation authorities. "Let’s see what response we get from [Indian] authorities before we start looking at the challenges at the other end," Mills said.

Indian carriers have intensified their focus on international markets this year after the Indian government cancelled its policy of giving state-run Air India first refusal on overseas routes and Kingfisher Airlines decision in March 2012 to scrap its international routes altogether.

In the company’s latest first quarter results, SpiceJet reported a 51 percent increase in revenue to INR1407 crore (US$251.6m) and a 26.1 percent lift in passenger numbers. The carrier posted a profit of INR56.1 crore, SpiceJet’s first following a streak of five straight quarterly losses.

The airline’s market share stood at 18.6 percent.

SpiceJet currently operates a fleet of 35 Boeing 737 craft and 12 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

Owned by Indian billionaire Kalanithi Maran, SpiceJet competes with IndiGo, India’s largest low-cost carrier.

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