Jet Airways international rights dished out to SpiceJet, IndiGo and other airlines!

With the temporary shutdown of Jet Airways, the Indian bureaucracy has busied itself more with farming out its rights rather than trying to revive the airline. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has initiated the process to temporarily withdraw some of Jet Airways international bilateral rights and grant these to other airlines. MOCA held a meeting with other airlines for the redistribution of these rights on May 17, 2019. Airlines were asked to submit their fleet induction plan and their wishlist for international expansion.

According to the Civil Aviation Secretary, P S Kharola,

We had asked airlines to confirm their requirement of (domestic) slots and (international) traffic rights…Their requests have been officially logged in. Our people will do analysis now and we will evolve a transparent SOP based on which the rights will be given.

According to CNBC, some of Jet Airways bilateral rights to Dubai, Singapore, Qatar, Hong Kong and London were temporarily withdrawn.

City/Airport/CountryBilateral rights earlier heldBilateral rights temporarily withdrawnBilateral rights left
Dubai12,979 seats/week5,825 seats/week7,154 seats/week
Hong Kong3,584 seats/week1,792 seats/week1,792 seats/week
Singapore12,076 seats/week1,620 seats/week10,456 seats/week
Qatar8,559 seats/week5,670 seats/week2,889 seats/week
London Heathrow 28 flights/week14 flights/week14 flights/week

Indian Express reported that IndiGo will start Delhi – Hong Kong route with 8-10x weekly flights. SpiceJet, on the other hand, will start flights on Mumbai – Hong Kong route. IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara would connect Delhi and Mumbai with Dhaka using Jet Airways bilateral rights. Airlines are requesting allocating additional bilateral rights from Jet Airways to mount flights to Singapore and Bangkok.

In addition, Qatar Airways also wants to mount temporary flights to Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru from Doha.

There are many questions unanswered though. How many bilateral rights have been withdrawn on a temporary basis? Will the process of allocating bilateral rights be transparent? What will be the basis for the allocation of temporary international rights? Will it favour incumbent carriers operating on the route or will new carriers be given preference?

Will it factor in capacity being added? Will it be on the basis of previous years of international capacity added? If Jet Airways was to resurrect, how will the transfer workout?

Air India

the wing of a plane

Air India took delivery of the last A320neo on order last month and doesn’t have any new aircraft on order. But Air India has around 23 aircraft grounded (down from earlier 24) for quite a few months and their current aircraft utilisation is also poor compared to other carriers.

Embed from Getty Images

Air India earlier was exploring the possibility of adding up to 5 Jet Airways 777s on a lease. Air India was planning to add Mumbai – London, Mumbai – Dubai, Delhi – London, Delhi – Dubai and Delhi – Singapore flights using those 777s. But they opted out. Instead, Air India is planning to deploy its own aircraft (some of the grounded aircraft are being brought back) to add flights on the above routes.

Air India added an additional daily frequency to Dubai from Delhi and Mumbai each from June 1, 2019. Considering Air India utilised the temporary bilateral rights, there is still 2241 seats/week up for grabs on India-Dubai route factoring that data provided by CNBC.

It was also reported that Air India got a big share of Jet Airways bilateral rights on a temporary basis to add flights to Doha (around 5000 seats/week) and London Heathrow (2x daily flights).

Aircraft typeAircraft RegisterationStatusAirport Grounded AtLast FlightLast Flight onNotes
A319VT-SCNOperationalKolkataAI 628 NAG-BOMFebruary 7, 2019Back on March 6, 2019 AI 705 CCU-DIB FlightAware shows only 5 flights operated from November 28, 2018 to February 27, 2019
A319VT-SCROperationalMumbaiAI 626 LKO-BOMApril 07, 2019A few one off flights in June and July 2019, back from August 7, 2019
A319VT-SCSOperationalMumbaiAI 662 GOI-BOMFebruary 10, 2019Back on June 29, 2019 as AI 54 BOM-COK
A319VT-SCTGroundedDelhiAI 821 IXJ-SXRJanuary 14, 2019Before that operated AI 812 LKO-DEL on 12-11-2018
A319VT-SCUGroundedMumbaiAI 668 TRV-BOMDecember 26, 2018Operated one-off flight HYD-BOM on March 15, 2019
A319VT-SCVOperationalDelhiAI 1764 DEL-CCUJanuary 17, 2019Operated one-off flight BHO-BOM on March 23, 2019. Back on June 7, 2019 as AI230 CCU-DAC
A319VT-SCXGroundedDelhiAI 628 NAG-BOMFebruary 3, 2019FlightAware shows only 5 recorded operated flights since 13-11-2018
A321VT-PPLOperationalHyderabadAI 542 HYD-TIRFebruary 2, 2019Accident at Tirupati Airport. Before that operated last flight AI 24 DEL-BOM on 12-01-2019. Back on July 27, 2019 as AI 661 BOM-GOI
A321VT-PPMOperationalDelhiDEL-BOM (Cancelled)June 21, 2018Back on May 8, 2019 as AI 91 BOM-AMD
A321VT-PPNGroundedHyderabadAI 541 TIR-HYDJanuary 29, 2019
A321VT-PPTOperationalMumbaiAI 683 BOM-GOIAugust 11, 2018Back on March 8, 2019 AI 618 HYD-BOM
A321VT-PPUGroundedMumbaiAI 665 DEL-BOMSeptember 20, 2018
A321VT-PPWGroundedMumbaiAI 614 AMD-BOMApril 3, 2019
A321VT-PPXGroundedDelhiAI 806 BOM-DEL (Cancelled flight on November 28, 2018)Maybe July 22, 2018 as AI 630 NAG-BOM
A320VT-EDCOperationalDelhiAI 820 BDQ-DELFebruary 19, 2019Back on July 2, 2019
A320VT-EDFOperationalDelhiAI 840 HYD-DELFebruary 13, 2019Back on March 20, 2019 AI 439 DEL-MAA
747-400VT-ESPOperationalMumbaiAI 5226 MED-BOMSeptember 18, 2019Back on March 9, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL
747-400VT-ESOOperational MumbaiAI 966 HYD-BOMMay 28, 2019AI 1
747-400VT-EVAGroundedMumbaiAI 191 DEL-BOMMay 13, 2019
747-400VT-EVBOperational MumbaiAI 966 HYD-BOMJanuary 29, 2019Back on June 24, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL
777-300ERVT-ALOGroundedMumbaiBOM-BOMAugust 9, 2018
777-300ERVT-ALUOperationalNagpurAI 1469 DEL-NAGSeptember 22, 2018Back on June 6, 2019 as AI 144 BOM-DEL
787-8VT-ANBOperationalMumbaiAI 349 DEL-BOMJanuary 7, 2019Back on May 24, 2019 as AI 31 BOM-AMD
787-8VT-ANGOperationalMumbaiAI 331 BKK-BOMApril 7, 2018Back on May 22, 2019 as AI 31 BOM-AMD
787-8VT-ANJGroundedMumbaiAI 865 DEL-BOMOctober 9, 2018
787-8VT-ANKOperationalMumbaiAI 331 BKK-BOMJuly 8, 2018Back on April 6, 2019 AI 330 BOM-BKK
787-8VT-ANMGroundedMumbaiAI 863 DEL-BOMJanuary 2, 2019
787-8VT-ANNOperationalMumbaiAI 349 DEL-BOMFebruary 25, 2019Back on April 13, 2019 AI 310 BOM-DEL
787-8VT-ANOOperationalMumbaiAI 315 DEL-BOMApril 28, 2019Back on July 12, 2019 AI 687 BOM-DEL
787-8VT-ANUOperationalDelhiAI 121 DEL-FRA Suffered mid-air decompression.March 6, 2019Back on May 31, 2019 as AI 20 DEL-CCU.

Then again, Air India is dealing with its own problems. Due to the prolonged closure of Pakistan airspace, flights to Europe and USA are taking a longer route. This translates to an increase in crew and aircraft utilisation. Adding to this, the grounding of 23 aircraft including some 777s and 787s for quite a few months, Air India is finding it difficult and costly to maintain the schedule.

Groundings of Air India aircraft lead to a decrease in capacity on Singapore routes. Air India reduced Delhi – Singapore route to daily (from 2x daily) and downgraded Mumbai and Chennai routes to A321 since the last year. So will Air India get an additional share in Singapore routes?


While we already know about SpiceJet’s intentions of adding various international flights out of Mumbai. Time and again, in every press release since some Jet Airways slots were re-distributed, SpiceJet has mentioned the following statement.

SpiceJet has also announced a slew of new non-stop international flights to Hong Kong, Jeddah, Dubai, Colombo, Dhaka, Riyadh, Bangkok and Kathmandu from Mumbai effective May-end. The airline will deploy its Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft on all the routes.

SpiceJet did add Mumbai – Bangkok and Delhi – Bangkok flights using bilateral rights from their kitty. They cancelled Amritsar – Bangkok and Hyderabad – Bangkok to add flights from Mumbai and Delhi. In March 2019, bilateral rights for flights to Saudi Arabia were increased. Both IndiGo and SpiceJet took advantage of these and added flights from Mumbai.

 jet airways international

SpiceJet hybrid liveries

Kathmandu, Hong Kong, Dubai and Dhaka have bilateral rights restriction especially Hong Kong. So was SpiceJet so confident of getting Jet Airways bilateral rights especially to Hong Kong that they launched a presser a month back in April 2019? Or did they have some bilateral rights left and weren’t adding flights till now? If its the first case then how can it be assured that the procedure is transparent as guaranteed by MoCA?

MoCA and DGCA have given SpiceJet more, which was covered very well by ET Prime. Slots to carriers were only supposed to be given if they added additional capacity. But SpiceJet, which was handicapped operationally due to the grounding of 13 737MAX aircraft, prioritised adding new temporary flights, even on short notice, instead of using the ex-Jet Airways 737s to first bring their own schedule in order.

Till date passengers are receiving alerts that flights have been delayed or cancelled due to the grounding of 737MAX.

Rich coming from an airline which comments,

The new domestic flights will help in minimising the passenger inconvenience caused due to the sudden shortage in capacity within the Indian aviation industry.


Vistara got its international operating permit in March 2019, almost a year after it had applied. While Vistara didn’t announce any international routes, Delhi – Colombo is going to be the first route.

But since then, a lot has changed, especially due to Jet Airways. Delivery of new aircraft, from the order placed last year, will start only from the second half of 2019. So, to take advantage of the current situation, Vistara will take some ex-Jet Airways aircraft as a stop-gap arrangement.

While not many details are out yet, Vistara may be looking at adding flights to Europe and far-east considering they are looking at adding 777s and A330s which were operated by Jet Airways. But it all depends on how many bilaterals are made available to them by MOCA.


IndiGo has its own growth plan. While they may be taking advantage of the current situation, they are also not deviating from their original growth plan by a big margin.

While, international growth was supposed to form a majority of their growth, due to the Jet Airways situation, they undertook a huge domestic expansion temporarily. IndiGo temporarily pulled out of some international routes like Bengaluru – Phuket, Ahmedabad – Doha and Trivandrum – Doha. This may be factored in by the MOCA while allocating rights, especially to Qatar, considering IndiGo is the largest Indian carrier to operate to Doha.

 jet airways international

VT-IUA, IndiGo’s A321neo at Goa airport

But it isn’t that IndiGo has stopped international expansion. IndiGo last year mentioned that they would expand to Saudi Arabia, and they did. They added flights to Jeddah and Dammam. They even mounted additional flights on the Delhi – Kathmandu sector.

IndiGo also has intentions of adding flights to China and they were recently approved by both DGCA and CAAC to add flights to China. Let’s see which bilateral rights are made available to them.


GoAir had earlier stopped taking delivery of new A320neo and grounded quite a few A320ceo. Now, deliveries of new A320neo have begun, while some A320ceo are leaving the fleet. GoAir will pull out of Maldives completely in early July 2019. The only international destinations are Phuket (from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru), Abu Dhabi (from Kannur) and Muscat (from Kannur).

jet airways international

GoAir Mumbai-Phuket

With A320neos on order and deliveries now on track, GoAir can be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the temporary international rights distribution, provided they have a growth plan.

AirAsia India hasn’t yet received its international flying permit, so they are out of question. Let’s see what actually unfolds and what routes are added by airlines and when.

What are your thoughts on MOCA distributing Jet Airways temporary international rights?



  1. Why should the government try to save Jet Airways? Jet sadly is a victim of its own short term thinking. The rot could be said to have started when they bought out Sahara. Its strategy was also confusing. For a while, there was Jet, Jet Konnect and Jet Lite. While it was fun identifying them through their liveries while at the airport, it is next to impossible to have such widely disparate sub brands.
    Thumbing his nose at the Tatas back in November / December also led to Goyals downfall.

    • actually if you see from a Taxpayer perspective , the Govt just saved the “Promoters” of the airline and not the airline itself…SBI converted Debt to equity , NIIF funds were pumped , as of date NIIF and SBI Jointly own over 50% of the stake in the airline….Ex-promoters and friends are bidding the airline putting conditions such as writing off all the debt to give a clean slate to restart….Banks as usual gave money to the airline on Brand Value same as Kingfisher back in the day ( as jet didnt own anything from aircraft to slots which banks could sell and recover some debt)

      • @MT, check your facts. The airline is still owned 50% plus by Naresh Goyal. He has pledged 30% or so of his stake, but SBI has not converted the debt to Equity. NIIF funds pumped, when on earth did this happen?

  2. “the Indian bureaucracy has busied itself more with farming out its rights rather than trying to revive the airline”
    Why should Indian bureaucracy be trying to revive an airline?

    Since these are only temporary allocation they should ideally go to the airline best suited to start operations as soon as possible. If the slots are permanently taken back from Jet airways at a later date, then the slots should ideally be auctioned off keeping in mind 2012 judgement of Supreme court.

    • the temporary term is only being used because they want new promoters who wish to pump money to have a reason to pump money , if there are no slots , who will buy… our Govt on the other hand hasnt learnt anything (may not learn anything in future also) , by taking over a private airline , it indirectly gave a signal to other airlines sighting they can borrow recklessly , and when they fail ,all promoters walk scot free and govt bears the loss at taxpayers’ expense…they cant find people to invest in AI…now they also have a dysfunctional Jet on their heads too

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