India's Jet Airways denies media reports that it will launch new services to Europe at the expense of its New Delhi-Brussels and Mumbai-Brussels services, but analysis of route data suggests that Berlin would be an ideal destination for the Indian carrier.
According to unnamed sources quoted in local media, the carrier is actively eyeing Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin.
When contacted by Flightglobal Pro, a company spokeswoman sidestepped the issue saying: "At Jet, Brussels continues to be an important gateway in the airline's European network. Jet, as any responsible carrier on the growth path, continues to evaluate several options to expand and grow its network, keeping in mind market and competitive dynamics, connectivity and partnership opportunities."
Jet has direct services to just two European destinations - Brussels and London - that it serves from New Delhi and Mumbai, Innovata Flightmaps Analytics shows. The carrier uses Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the Mumbai-Brussels and New Delhi-Brussels routes. On the Mumbai-London route, it mainly uses Boeing 777-300ER aircraft supplemented by A330-200s, while the New Delhi-London route is served exclusively using 777-300ERs.
Neither Brussels or London is a hub for Air Berlin, of which 29% is owned by Etihad Airways. Etihad also recently obtained a 24% stake in Jet, and has made no secret of its plans to leverage its various holdings to create one of the world's great airline networks.
Flightmaps indicates that Air Berlin operates just 55 monthly services to and from Paris, all originating from its Berlin hub. Air Berlin also has no services to Amsterdam Schiphol. Air Berlin and Etihad have though begun codesharing with Air France-KLM.
In a given month, Air Berlin operates 3,205 services from the German capital, or approximately 100 flights daily to cities across Europe. From a pure connectivity standpoint, Berlin is by far the best candidate for Jet's next European foray.
In addition, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows that Jet will soon begin receiving an influx of efficient widebodies that are well suited to European routes. From October 2013 to August 2015, it will receive five A330-200s, and from February 2014 to August 2015, it will receive 10 Boeing 787-8s.
These will double the size of its existing widebody fleet, which now comprises 10 A330-200s and five 777-300ERs.
In the fiscal year 2013 ended 31 March, Jet cut its pre-tax loss by 61% to Indian rupees (Rs) 4.9 billion ($87.1 million), as it continued to suffer in India's domestic market.
In its results statement, Jet said that it is looking to Etihad to help improve costs and provide synergies in areas such as fleet acquisition, maintenance and joint purchasing, crew training, and loyalty programmes.
"The alliance will bring significant guest benefits with expanded codesharing, creating a combined network of 140 destinations," it said.