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New price war in air as SpiceJet eyes Nepal
Published on 13 Dec. 2009 11:11 PM IST
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A new price war is in the offing with India’s national carrier Air India and private-sector Jet Airways keeping their fingers crossed as low-cost Indian airline SpiceJet announced its plans to start flights to Kathmandu from 2010. The Delhi-based airline, India’s second-largest low-cost airline in terms of market share, has plans to start flights from Delhi and Bangalore to Kathmandu when it completes five years in May 2010 and is eligible to get the nod from India’s aviation authorities to begin international flights. SpiceJet’s vice-president for sales Kamal Hingorani was in Kathmandu to scout the terrain. The new Indian carrier’s entry in Nepal will be facilitated due to the revised Air Service Agreement signed between India and Nepal this year that has increased five-fold the number of air seats between the two neighbouring countries. According to Hingorani, SpiceJet is also planning flights to the Gulf, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Currently, Air India and Jet Airways are the most sought-after airlines for flying to Indian cities from Kathmandu, especially as some of the cities they fly to do not have any other competitor. SpiceJet’s advent, if the airline’s plans take off, will trigger a price war among the Indian carriers just as Nepali airline Cosmic Airlines’ entry in the international market four years ago had. Cosmic, which took on Air India head-on by running flights to cities where it enjoyed a monopoly - like Kolkata - caused fares to be slashed by the other airlines, to the joy of passengers. However, the joy was shortlived as Cosmic Airlines was forced to suspend its international operations from 2006. Also waiting in the wings is UB group’s Kingfisher Airlines, and Nepali domestic airline Buddha Air that is planning flights to Lucknow.

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