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Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:35 am

Air Sahara flights to Europe in Sept

NEW DELHI, JAN 4: With the government opening up international skies for private domestic airlines, Air Sahara has drawn up a major expansion plan to offer non-stop flights from several Indian cities to not just Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur but to London as well. The flights to the Far East will commence in April-May while the London flight will take a little longer to get off the ground as slots at the airport is an issue, Air Sahara president Rono Joy Dutta said.

“The airline is kind of ready to launch operations to the Far East. The flights to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, among other destinations in the Asean region will be non-stop. We are looking at offering connections from at least two or three cities within the country,” Mr Dutta told FE. He, however, said for the present, London would be the only destination in Europe to which the airline will operate flights from September onwards.

“We have also stepped on the gas to lease wide-bodied aircraft for launching services to key destinations like London,” Mr Dutta said. At present, Air Sahara’s fleet of 21 aircraft includes new generation Boeing 737-700, 737-800 and 737-400 aircraft. “We plan to expand the fleet to 32 aircraft by July this year and have already signed contracts to acquire five aircraft,” he said.

According to Mr Dutta, the airline will use its new generation B737s for operating services to Asean destinations like Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lampur, but flights to long-haul destinations like the UK or the US can be operated only with wide-bodied aircraft like B777, B747 or A340.

Mr Dutta said, during 2004, Air Sahara saw a 50% growth in passenger traffic from two million passengers it flew in 2003 to three million passengers. “We are also creating an international hub at Hyderabad which would connect Hyderabad to Indian cities and international destinations. Air Sahara would operate 126 flights per week from Hub Hyderabad. Domestic cities connected to the hub would be Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Cochin, Bangalore, Chennai, Bhubaneshwar, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Lucknow. The service will commence on February 3rd,” he said.

“At a later stage, international cities like Kathmandu and Colombo will be connected to the hub. Air Sahara also intends to connect the hub to destinations like Singapore, Kuala Lampur and London, once all necessary governmental approvals are received,” Mr Dutta said.

Meanwhile, Air Sahara has strengthened its management team by inducting two senior management executives from its competitors. While Mr MC Gupta joins Air Sahara as head of quality assurance from Indian Airlines, Mr N Sundarajan, earlier with Jet Airways, will head Air Sahara’s international sales for Asia and America region, Mr Dutta said.
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RE: Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:46 am

Hub Hyderabad is a long overdue effeciency type concept for Indian aviation. I remember years back when I spoke to atop executive at IC on a visit to Delhi and I explained to him the US/European/Singapore hub and spoke concept of connecting passengers and offering more flight options and he felt that it was yet another arrogant western idea.

Air Sahara is making a big push in South India and could soon rival 9W as the top private carrier. I was impressed on my recent flight from Chennai to Bangalore by their effeciency and courtesy, something not always found on airlines in India.

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RE: Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 5:51 am

....aren't all the route rights into London under the new bilateral already taken up by Air-India?
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RE: Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 6:29 am

The Economic Times of India as well as Hindu Businessline has announced that :

1. S2 will be flying daily from BOM, DEL and HYD to BKK-HKG-KUL-SIN with B 737NGs and later on widebodies.

Out of curiousity, can a B 737-700 and -800 fly from BOM/DEL/HYD to HKG nonstop without any payload restrictions?

2. And it has managed to obtain "some slots" at LHR-Heathrow...this I have a hard time believing!!!

[Edited 2005-01-04 22:30:48]

[Edited 2005-01-04 22:35:48]
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RE: Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:00 am

Slots are one thing. Route authority is another. India would have to designate Air Sahara to operate some of its routes under the bilateral. There were new rouites created under the last bi-lateral, but I would have thought the Indian government would have wanted to keep these for Air-India.
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RE: Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:32 pm

Out of curiousity, can a B 737-700 and -800 fly from BOM/DEL/HYD to HKG nonstop without any payload restrictions?

Yes both planes can do the sectors you have mentioned above. FYKI KQ operates a B737-700 on the BOM-NBO sector. The point where you get hit is with pax baggage whereby if you have a full load, you may not be able to accommodate any cargo at all and even the full pax and baggage load may have to be compromised if you have stiff long range flying conditions like head-winds, heat etc.

Not the ideal aircraft for such routes to be honest.

Sarfaroshi kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mein hai, Dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazu-e-qaatil mein hai
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RE: Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 7:54 pm

I think it is great that finally Indian skies are getting or going to get what was deserved by the people, the passengers, the customers.
Competition can only create a dynamism and improvements, and force the age-old mammoths (which by all means i have always been proud of as a person of Indian origin) to update and act as independent and competitive businesses, putting the passenger first, instead of kind of doing a favour to the latter.
I have been a bit out of touch with developments in India for some time. Anybody can tell me what are the current airlines there, where are they flying and what fleets are they using?
What about the wet lease market? Any possibilities of these newer or younger airlines traditionally, hiring wet lease for their international and even domestic expansion?
Clouds in both Worlds
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RE: Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:38 pm

it has managed to obtain "some slots" at LHR-Heathrow...this I have a hard time believing!!!

Believe it.
"The A340-300 may boast a long range, but the A340 is underpowered" -- Robert Milton, CEO - Air Canada
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RE: Air Sahara News

Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:10 pm

CATAVnews is correct about the need for Air Sahara to be specifically named as designated carrier on certain international routes- this is unless India handles their negotiations and award routings differently than does the USA (which is what I have expeirence and knowledge of). Considering that previous to Kathmandu and Colombo being opened up to private carriers, route authority was always excersised by a state run airline, perhaps this hasn't been the case in the past. I'm not positive how India has done it previously, but am pretty sure Air Sahara would have to be designated by the government as a carrier on certain routes.

As far as obtaining the slots at Heathrow, I do believe that- now getting the route authority to fly to LHR is a different and more difficult matter entirely.

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RE: Air Sahara News

Thu Jan 06, 2005 1:44 pm

Hub and Spoke operation s fine - but with just one bank of flights each way- south bound between 12 and 2 Pm and northbound between 4 and 6 PM, I doubt how effective this is going to be incase of delays. Ofcourse, Sahara y are minimising their risks by starting operations in February after the fog is over , but what is going to happen nexst year same time ?

The question if introducing a second bank does not arise in the foreseeable future until the Shamsabad airport comes up by 2008, because Begumpet is heavily constrained in terms of stands - one reason they are haviing the current scheduling (Current HYD peak is between 7 to 9 mornings and evenings).

Another reason to watch out is the reaction esp of Jet and Indian Airlines . Both can easily rejig their schedules to offer better connections , Anyway we will know soon enough!

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