SpiceJet Set To Lease Hi Fly’s Airbus A330neo

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Gurgaon, Haryana-based Indian low-cost airlines SpiceJet has announced today that it plans to lease a Hi Fly Airbus A330neo to bring back Indian nationals stranded in Europe. According to a tweet released by the airline, the charter flight will be SpiceJet’s first long-haul flight and will depart from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) on August 1.

Hi Fly took delivery on the A330neo last September. Photo: Hi Fly.

We know so far from information gathered, that the flight is a wet lease charter, meaning that the Portuguese operators’ crew will fly it on behalf of the budget carrier. We understand the flight will depart Amsterdam at 14:30 on August 1 and arrive at Bengaluru at 03:00 the following day and then fly onto Hyderabad arriving at 05:30.

SpiceJet plans to use the A330neo for charters

While speaking about the repatriation flight and further use of the 371 seat aircraft a spokesperson for the Ajay Singh-owned airline said:

“This A330-900 can do India-US non-stop. We plan to utilize it initially for charters to wherever the demand is for. Later it may be used for scheduled flights under the travel bubbles India is forming with some countries. That is an option. For now, it will be used for charters that can be booked by any organization or NGO.” 

When the plane departs Amsterdam on Saturday, it will mark the first time that an Indian LLC has operated a long-haul flight and shows SpiceJets intent to offer low-cost flights to Europe and North America.

SpiceJet has permission to fly to the US and UK

Last week Spicejet received permission to fly to the United States and the United Kingdom and is reportedly trying to acquire coveted landing slots at London Heathrow (LHR). By wet leasing what is in effect, a brand new aircraft that was only delivered to the Lisbon-headquartered airline last September SpiceJet is effectively dipping its toes in the long-haul water.

SpiceJet MD Ajay Singh in front of SpiceJet
SpiceJet owner Ajay Singh is happy following permission to fly to the US and UK. Photo: Getty Images

Currently, bloated national flag carrier Air India is the only Indian airline offering widebody long-haul international flights. Given Air India’s current financial affairs, it is not surprising that other Indian carries are looking to compete with it in the long-haul market place. 

Vistara is also looking at long-haul flights

Singapore Airlines joint venture partner Vistara has acquired a Boeing 787-Dreamliner and will soon take delivery of a second as it looks to expand its footprint. So far, the Boeing widebody has only been deployed on domestic routes due to COVID-19 but will be put on longer international routes once it is safe to do so, and the travel demand is there. For many Indian carriers, slots at London Heathrow remain the jewel in the European crown and a priority for Vistara when it commences flights to Europe.

Given the coronavirus’s current situation around the world, Indians would prefer to fly non-stop to international destinations rather than having to change planes in the Gulf. The fear is that should the coronavirus force the UAE or Qatar to lockdown, they could become stuck or unable to connect when trying to get home.

Vistara Dreamliner 787
Vistara wanst a London Heathrow spot for its 787-Dreamliner. Photo: Getty

Should SpiceJet manage to get a London Heathrow slot, it could prove to be a gamechanger as for now, at least, they would be the only LLC offering non-stop flights between the Indian Subcontinent and the United Kingdom.

What do you think about SpiceJet chartering an Airbus A330neo from Hi Fly and possible long-haul flights? Please tell us what you think in the comments.


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