Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary Scoot says it is focusing on Tier-II cities such as Amritsar, Jaipur and Lucknow as it is unable to expand its operations and meet demand from large metros due to lack of slots.
With Indian carriers utilising just 20 per cent of the slots allocated to them to fly to Singapore, the chances of India and Singapore going for bilateral talks to expand capacity will remain a pipe dream. “Given the constraints, we are looking at expanding in Tier-II cities. Last year, we started operating from Amritsar and Jaipur, and about a year and a half ago we started at Lucknow. So, our focus will be in Tier-II cities and if the metro cities open up we will definitely come in,” said Bharath Mahadevan, country head for Scoot.
Scoot expects its operations in India to grow by just 5-7 per cent in the next few years, despite the domestic market for international travel to South East Asia and Australia expected to explode. To indirectly meet some of this demand, the company is looking at aggressively entering new cities such as Bhubaneswar and Guwahati, which fall under the government of India’s open skies policy. Mahadevan says Scoot will also look at cities such as Pune, Chandigarh and Madurai as and when they open up. With around 80 per cent of its capacity being utilised the year round, India is Scoot’s largest International market after China. Given the restrictions in place, the company will begin looking at alternative for growth, just as it did by aggressively entering Tier-II markets over the past one and a half year.
“We have our partner Vistara (a Singapore Airlines and Tata venture), which is operating in the Indian market. We are looking at synergies with Vistara, where it feeds us from the Tier-II cities into Bangalore or Chennai and we carry them (the passengers) to Singapore. But it (Vistara) has to expand its network first before that happens,” added Mahadevan.
Scoot on Tuesday announced its merger with Tigerair, another wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines. The merger would give the company access to all the routes Tigerair operated in India, including Bengaluru from where it will operate a daily flight to Singapore.