Singapore Airlines’ plan to team up with Tata Sons for a domestic full service carrier follows a steady increase in capacity to Indian destinations in recent years.
The planned tie-up, which will lead to SIA holding a 49% stake in the new carrier, is far from a done deal – although Indian media reports have hinted that New Delhi would like to fast track the planned venture.
Moreover, SIA and Tata have yet to provide details such as the new carrier’s fleet composition – although it can be taken for granted that the new carrier will operate Boeing 737s or Airbus A320 family aircraft – and the destinations it will serve from its planned New Delhi hub.
Given the competitive pressures in India's market and a notoriously challenging Indian government bureaucracy, SIA’s move came as somewhat of a surprise. Sceptics were quick to point out that Tata is a partner in India AirAsia, a planned low-cost carrier that has yet to receive formal approval to launch services.
SIA’s move, however, appears to be evolutionary, as opposed to revolutionary.
Flightglobal’s Capstats database shows that SIA and regional arm SilkAir's passenger capacity on flights from Singapore to India has nearly doubled since 2005. In 2013, the airlines will deploy a capacity of 1.2 million seats on Singapore-India routes, compared with just 776,000 seats in 2005.
In 2013, ASKs on Singapore-India routes will hit 4.1 billion, compared with 2.8 billion in 2005.
SIA, Silkair routes to India – August 2013
In regard to routes, FlightMaps Analytics shows that the two premium-focused carriers serve 11 Indian cities from Singapore: Kolkata, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Vishakhapatnam, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Coimbatore and Trivandrum.
Of these, SIA deploys the most capacity on the Singapore-Mumbai route, followed by the Singapore-New Delhi route. In August 2013, SIA provided 25,000 seats on the Singapore-Mumbai route with Boeing 777s. On the Singapore-New Delhi route, it provided 17,000 seats, again with 777s.
Its thinnest Indian routes, operated by Silkair, are Singapore-Trivandrum and Singapore-Vishakhapatnam.
The new carrier’s route network is likely to be optimised for providing domestic feed into SIA’s network through the Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru hubs.