SpiceJet planned to launch Delhi-RAK flights in December this year, when the airline announced plans to set up its first overseas hub in the emirate earlier this year. Spicejet chairman Ajay Singh also indicated that it would operate the flights five times a week.
The spokesperson for the airline said approvals are expected soon, after which Spicejet will confirm its launch date.
“We have sought regulatory approvals for the proposed services to RAK and will finalise the dates for launching the flights once we get the regulatory go ahead,” the SpiceJet executive said.
“We expect the approvals to come in soon. The frequency and other details for the services to RAK will be decided based on the regulatory approvals,” the airline executive added.
Sources in airline industry told Arabian Business that even after SpiceJet gets regulatory approvals, it may require more time to start its operations to RAK, as it will also involve setting up an engineering unit and a host of other facilities at the airport in the emirate.
“Availability of aircraft will be another issue which the budget carrier will have to sort out for launching services to RAK,” a senior executive with another Indian airline has said.
With SpiceJet's Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft grounded, the carrier's expansion plans have been severly restricted, despite adding 26 new aircraft since April.
Aviation industry analysts, however, were not very hopeful of SpiceJet’s ambitious RAK plans taking off in a big way, mainly on the ground that the emirate offers little connectivity options, as also the airport there is very constrained.
“SpiceJet could struggle to lure passengers to RAK,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst with StrategicAero Research, told Arabian Business.
“While it might be able to hub-through some of its own traffic out of India to RAK and beyond, where else will they get business from?” Saj said, adding that “it’s a novel idea but one that could be short-lived”.
“Coupled with SpiceJet’s recent codeshare with Emirates out of Dubai, it stands to reason that that is where the real revenue lies – not in RAK,” Saj added.
In addition to launching services to RAK from Delhi, SpiceJet has also announced setting up a new airline venture in RAK, and is currently in discussions with some of the local investors in the emirate to offer equity stake in the venture.