(MENAFN - Arab News) Marking an important milestone, SpiceJet, India's most preferred low fare airline, inaugurated its first flight between Riyadh and New Delhi amid great fanfare, here on Friday.
A formal announcement about the flight was made by India's Minister of Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan in a crowded community function, while the maiden SpiceJet flight was later flagged off at King Khalid International Airport (KKIA) by Nasser Al-Ogaify, KKIA deputy general manager, and Kamal Hingorani, SpiceJet's senior vice president.
"SpiceJet flights will serve the progressively growing number of passengers on this route," said Khan, while announcing the launch of the SpiceJet flight from Riyadh to New Delhi. He said the "Indian government and the agencies concerned are always ready to provide better operational facilities in the aviation sector and extend their help to national and private carriers operating in Indian skies."
Khan, who wrapped up his four-day visit to the Kingdom yesterday, later met with a group of SpiceJet officials including Hingorani, Shaji Nihal, manager of Al-Blagha Travels (Spicejet GSA), and Udai Tandon, Spicejet's manager for trade sales. They briefed the minister about the new daily flight being operated by the SpiceJet. Later at the airport, a cake was cut to mark the launch of Riyadh-New Delhi operation. The cake cutting ceremony was attended by top Saudi and Indian officials including Al-Ogaify and Farid Al-Deijy, Al-Blagha's executive manager.
Speaking to Arab News on this occasion, Hingorani said that the decision by the SpiceJet to start its flights sends a strong signal to the world which points to the strength of Saudi Arabia as an ideal destination for Asian workers and a business hub besides being the land of the two holy mosques at Makkah and Madinah. He thanked the Saudi leadership and officials of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) for providing "proactive support that helped the carrier to launch the flight on time".
Passengers looking for a connection between Delhi and Riyadh will now be able to "grab cheap travel deals" with SpiceJet, said Hingorani, while referring to the cost of the ticket fixed at SR 444 during the promotional period. "Moreover, Indian expatriates living and working in Saudi Arabia can access the largest domestic network through SpiceJet," he noted, while referring to a total of 320 flights operated by the carrier daily.
He pointed out that more than 40,000 passengers fly SpiceJet daily, which has the best on-time performance. "We as a branded airline look forward to a long sustained relationship with Saudi Arabia and our partners in this country," he said.
Predicting the revenue of about 1 billion during the current financial year, Hingorani pointed out that "SpiceJet holds 20 percent share in India's domestic segment."
Asked about the flight frequency and the plan to launch flights to new destinations in India besides New Delhi in near future, Al-Blagha Travels Manager Nihal said the plans are there. He, however, counted the benefits of the new Spicejet flight from Riyadh to New Delhi, saying that the Indian workers, Saudi travelers and holidaymakers, who are often to be seen scrambling for cheap deals for tickets on flights connecting India and Saudi
Arabia, now have added options made available to them by SpiceJet.
"This is in addition to the 40 kg free baggage offer given by this popular no-frills airline, which will operate new generation Boeing 737 NG aircraft on this route" said Nihal. He pointed out that SpiceJet and Al-Blagah had opened a fully equipped office in Batha district of Riyadh to handle day-to-day operations.