Tigerair-Scoot to further footprints in India

GOLD COAST (Australia): Tigerair and Scoot, the no-frills subsidiaries of Singapore Airlines that will merge by July-end, are looking at expanding its footprints in India by tapping international travellers from Tier-2 cities and secondary markets in the country.

The airlines, which will start functioning under a single brand ‘Scoot’ from July 25 after the merger, believes that the international connectivity from Tier-2 cities in India is “currently untapped” and is an area where it sees a “lot of growth opportunities”.

“It is part of our strategy to tap into Tier-2 cities and secondary markets in India…We are definitely keen on expansion and are constantly exploring avenues to expand our footprint in India. We are already studying markets in India that we want to go to next. However, we will need to assess the market demand before we go ahead with any such plan,” Scoot and Tigerair CEO Lee Lik Hsin said in an email.

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Tigerair, a short-haul airline, currently operates from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Tiruchirappalli and Lucknow while Scoot, a medium-haul operator, operates from Chennai, Amritsar and Jaipur to Singapore and to other destinations like Australia.

Hsin said South India has been their focus area since the commencement of operations in India and “still see a lot of demand from existing markets” there as well as from “several smaller markets in South India that we do not operate to at the moment”.

Asked whether they would expand beyond the south Indian market, he said, “we are already evaluating options for expansion in North India and would be happy to further expand our footprint all across India.”

The increase in destinations had helped the airlines capture more passengers. While there was an increase of 8.6% from 2013 to 2014, it declined to 7.1% in 2015 compared to 2014.

However, last year saw a 22.3% rise from 2015 with the airlines attributing the significant increase in flown passengers to the launch of new routes Amritsar and Jaipur in May and Oct respectively.

Acknowledging the “tremendous growth opportunities” in India’s aviation sector, Hsin said the UDAN or Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) will step up air connectivity to smaller cities and towns. “With Indian travellers increasingly looking at affordable international travel, international low-cost carriers operating to India have great prospects to offer long-haul budget travel options,” he said.

Queried about their target for India in the coming years, Hsin said they will continue to access potential tier 2 cities in India for further expansion, to cater to both leisure and business demand between India to Singapore and beyond.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 17, 2017)

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