The United States of America has been a popular destination among Indian travellers. A few decades back, when civil aviation sector was not decentralized, only Indian Air India operated cheap flights to USA. In addition to this, a number of foreign carriers, chiefly European and American, catered to the demand for air travel between these countries. However now, travellers can choose from a number of non-stop and direct services offered by various carriers. The stopover locations include Frankfurt, Paris and London.
In addition to the increase in options, major changes in the operational aviation environment on the Indo-US flight segment have also been observed.
1. First major change has been the depletion of monopoly of carriers with the emergence of private operators in the wake of decentralisation of civil aviation. Now, flights to USA are also provided by Jet Airways, besides the national airline. Ground is also open for new entrants, who would want to commence such services in the coming future.
2. Second major development has been the advent of long haul flights. Now, direct USA flights, which takes around 15 hours to reach the destination, can be opted by people. This has eliminated the need to make a halt in Europe, and then boarding the trans-Atlantic flights to reach the USA.
3. Growth of Middle East carriers has made a tectonic shift in the aviation markets. Emirates, Qatar, Etihad and other service providers based in this region operate long-haul flights to USA from their respective hubs in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi. Known for their best quality of service and great deals for passengers, these have reduced the importance of European hubs that catered to passenger traffic to United States. As per a recent aviation data, about one-third travellers, who purchased USA air tickets with these Gulf airlines that fly to America is of Indians.
These points amply demonstrate that the flight tickets to USA are in high demand in India. Major carriers are looking forward to capitalise the growing demand by launching services. It has been observed that foreign airlines have been quick to latch on to the opportunity and even made good of it. This market segment is very important to Gulf players is evident from the fact that their carriers have inducted long-haul wide-bodied airplanes in their fleet even when the population of UAE or Middle East is comparatively low.
Quite clearly, their strategy has been to cater the foreign markets, especially India. With this in view, carriers based in the gulf region also look for equity stakes in Indian carriers. A fine example of the same is Etihad, which purchased a major stake in Jet Airways. Now, almost every flight of Jet Airways bound for USA is routed through the Abu Dhabi hub.
European and American airlines are trying to change this aviation market balance by offering cheap tickets to USA and other discounts to the Indian passengers.