Analysis: Jet Airways to expand aggressively on long haul, and what will become of BRU hub
Jet Airways has announced its plans to aggressively expand internationally, and launch new routes to Paris, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo - while resuming its Mumbai - Shanghai service.
While none of these flights are yet loaded on GDS, considering this takes place as planned, this paves way for some interesting conclusions. The airline is currently receiving deliveries of its order for ten Airbus A330-200s, and these aircraft easily have the range to cover all of the aforementioned destinations. If any increase in capacity is needed, Jet can also use the four 777-300ERs that are coming off the leases with THY Turkish Airlines - although it is much likely that Jet will seek to lease out these frames, again.
Along with all of the above destinations - CDG, ICN, TPE, TYO and the much rumoured Amsterdam, AMS - there is one thing in common - all of these are SkyTeam hubs ( while Tokyo does not have any members based, it still has considerable activity by many of the members ). While it was rumoured sometime ago that Jet will be joining Star Alliance, and eventhough Jet had once ruled out joining an alliance soon, it now seems that Jet is finally aligning towards SkyTeam. The airline's newest route, to Milan, MXP - a major hub for member Alitalia, further confirms this. On one hand, it is no wonder that Jet ruled out joining an alliance soon, since a possible SkyTeam entry will only take place in around 2012. With Jet's current expansion, and assuming that Jet will indeed join SkyTeam - what will become of the carrier's Brussels scissor hub ?
Whether Jet joins SkyTeam, Star or oneWorld - the one thing that is very likely to happen is, none of the existing members would like Jet to steal their transatlantic market share. Hence, Jet will either have to totally wind down its scissor hub concept or to start codesharing with one of the members instead. In case that Jet joins SkyTeam, a hub at BRU becomes rather meaningless, as it will cause Jet to miss out on lucrative traffic feeds from its members in Paris, Amsterdam and Italy. It should also be noted that SkyTeam members have considerably less activity at BRU than most of other major European airports. Some insiders at Jet are stating that the carrier is likely to close down the BRU hub, and instead start flying nonstop to North America. The ever reducing India - BRU connections of Jet and the rumoured pull out of the Chennai - BRU route might prove proof to this. However, while Jet is receiving its four 777-300ERs back, the carrier indeed does not have any aircraft suitable for a nonstop North American operation. The Government of India is unlikely to grant Jet rights to serve New York JFK or Chicago nonstop, and Jet will have to settle for Toronto and other North American cities.
Now one might ask, Emirates does serve Dubai - San Francisco nonstop with a 777-300ER, so Jet might easily be able to operate to New York nonstop from India, right ? The answer is no. Twenty of Emirates' 777-300ER fleet is equipped with an auxiliary fuel tank which Jet's 777s don't. And even with the additional fuel carried, which gives EK's 77Ws a 2t boost in MTOW, the aircraft still has a payload reduction of 13 passengers and freight ( 4F and 9Y ). So it seems that whatever claims some might make, Jet's BRU hub will continue to exist for sometime in the future. However, if Jet joins SkyTeam, one should not be suprised to see this scissor hub make a move to Paris or Italy, given they receive appropriate freedom rights.
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