Jet Airways is reaching a new dimension by positioning Mumbai as a new convenient hub between Europe and the whole Asia. It has all the chance to succeed as the airline is boosting its network and benefits of a brand new international terminal at Mumbai Chhatrapati International Airport.
“We are the only air carrier offering up to seven daily flights from European cities to Mumbai”
Indian carrier Jet Airways inaugurated last week its first flight linking Mumbai to Paris. With the Paris frequency, India’s third largest airline wants to become a major player between Europe, India and the rest of Asia as highlighted by Emmanuel Menu, Vice President Continental Europe, Americas and Canada.
TravelDailyNews: What do you expect in terms of image with the new flight between Paris and Mumbai?
Emmanuel Menu: We are a relatively small player compared to giants such as British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates or Air India with a fleet of only 122 aircrafts and 76 destinations. But with the opening of our new route between Paris and Mumbai, we start to be one of the largest players between Europe and India. With 16.2% of all seat capacities, we are the third largest carrier on this segment, just behind Lufthansa and Air India and ahead of British Airways. And differences in seat capacities between us and our competitors remain minimal… But we are the only carrier out of continental Europe to offer a night flight to Mumbai which directly connects to all other metropolis in India as well as regional destinations in Asia.
TDN: Is your strategy in line with your new shareholder Etihad?
E.M.: Etihad is indeed present in our capital with 24% of shares. Since Etihad presence in our capital, we are looking at developing two strategic growth axis: a first one is to open up all of India to Europe and North America via Abu Dhabi, Etihad’s major hub. This already translates into new flights to Abu Dhabi. We fly not only to Delhi and Mumbai but also now from Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. We envision further potential development to Calcutta and Goa and in the long term, some 20 South Asian and Indian cities could be then connected via Abu Dhabi. The second axis concerns the transformation of Mumbai as a powerful hub to India and the rest of Asia. This is what we are concentrating on by adding new frequencies to India, Asia and opening new routes to Europe.
TDN: How will Mumbai hub strategy be implemented?
E.M.: Mumbai had until now a rather dull image as an airport with many of our customers avoiding to transfer or fly through the airport. However, with the brand new terminal 2, we now offer comfort conditions equivalent to the best airports around the world with a spacious terminal, numerous check-in counters, VIP areas, shops, lounges and short transfer times. We offer non-stop flights to 41 cities, including 22 in India. We use already the new Terminal 2 for all our international flights offering seemless connections between regional and intercontinental destinations. Once we move all of our domestic operations by next February, we then will have a perfect functioning hub with easy connections between the world and India. We think that our share of transfer passengers is likely to go from 35%/40% to 45%.
TDN: Is Mumbai fully integrated to this multi-hub strategy with Abu Dhabi?
E.M.: Mumbai works not only in alternative with Abu Dhabi but is also part of a broader multi-hub strategy which included also Brussels and now Paris. We offer in fact from 70 destinations in Europe up to seven flights a day to Mumbai and India thanks to non-stop or one-stop frequencies. Few airlines can provide such a strong product in terms of frequency. This is why we created a special fare which allows premium passengers to fly on any combination of frequency, non stop of via another hub.
TDN: Does your new frequency to Paris mark a shift from your Brussels gateway to France?
E.M.: No. There is no plan in that direction. We are satisfied with our operations in Brussels. We rationalize a few years ago our operation there with four daily flights, two to India with Delhi and Mumbai and two to North America with New York and Toronto. We will not further expand our operations there but feel that we have a good product for Indian passengers going to the USA as well as for Belgian and European passengers who represent 30% of our traffic. It took us six years to assure our presence there. First attempts were delayed due to the crisis. But now, we think this is the right time. Economy is picking up, the Indian middle class travels more and more.
And thanks to a partnership with Air France, we offer an ideal product for premium and leisure travellers. We have a codeshare on Air France morning flight to Mumbai and they code share with us on our evening frequency. Which gives the opportunity to open 24 European destinations via Paris to a similar number of cities in India. And more could follow…