Skift India Report: Akasa Air to Fly to South Asian and Middle East Countries

India’s youngest airline Akasa Air is looking to cover the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, Southeast Asian countries and countries in the Middle East, co-founder Aditya Ghosh told CNBC TV18.

Akasa Air recently added a 20th aircraft to its fleet — making it eligible to fly internationally — with the addition of Boeing 737-8-200.

Planes on Order: The airline is getting high-capacity Dash 200s to chase international demand.

The airline plans to fly internationally later this year with a fleet of 72 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, with intentions to expand to 100 aircraft by 2025. Last month, the carrier ordered four more planes from Boeing, which are to be delivered in the next four years. 

It is also looking to add some 500 employees to its workforce ahead of the international expansion.

Pilot Pay: In a race to bring pilots onboard, Akasa Air reportedly raised pilots’ salary by up to 40% — with senior first officers getting $4,145 per month versus the earlier $3,353. Senior captains earn $7,621 per month, up from $7,011.

Ground Transport Propels India’s Growth in Online Travel Market

Ground transport is going to be the cornerstone of growth in the Indian online travel market, with the intercity bus category growing at a 21% annual rate.  

This segment’s rapid expansion outpaces the overall online travel market’s 18% projected growth rate during the 2023-2026 period, according to a recent report titled ‘India Ground Transportation Market Sizing & OTA Benchmarking Study, FY20-FY26’ by travel consultancy firm Videc. 

In the financial year 2023, the rail and intercity bus categories were 30% of the total travel market. The total air market commanded 45%.

Rail: Ixigo, including its subsidiary ConfirmTkt, leads the way with 47.7% market share, closely followed by MakeMyTrip with a 10.2% share. Other players, including and EaseMyTrip, each hold a 1% share. 

Intercity Bus: MakeMyTrip stands out through its subsidiary redBus, securing a commanding three-fourth share. Meanwhile, ixigo Group, with its subsidiary AbhiBus, is also making significant strides, holding an 11.4% market share.

Cleartrip Partners With Axis Bank to Offer Travel Benefits to Users

Cleartrip and Axis Bank have partnered to introduce travel benefits to all the existing and new Axis Bank credit cardholders while booking through the online travel agency’s platform. 

What this Collaboration Offers: Customers will receive a range of privileges for domestic flight bookings, which include:

  • Seats valued up to $15
  • Free meals worth up to $6
  • Exemption from convenience fees
  • Choice to cancel and reschedule flights at a nominal fee of Re. 1 under ‘CT FlexMax’ 

“Our partnership with Axis Bank will include features such as flexible bookings, cancellation options, and date changes, all without any additional costs. This is set to benefit close to 12.5 million customers,” said Cleartrip CEO Ayyappan R. 

Earlier Partnerships: Last month, the company rolled out over 4,500 bus connections in the southern state of Kerala by joining hands with Kerala State Road Transportation Corporation and private players to offer various bus options for travelers.

Lemon Tree Hotels Signs Properties in Bhubaneswar and Kasauli

Lemon Tree Hotels has signed two new properties — Lemon Tree Hotel, Bhubaneswar in Odisha and Lemon Tree Mountain Resort, Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh. 

When? While the former is expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2025, the latter is expected to be operational by the third quarter of 2026.

Number of Rooms: Lemon Tree Hotel, Bhubaneswar will feature 60 rooms and the Kasauli property will feature 50 rooms and cottages.

Location: The Bhubaneswar property is about 7.4 miles away from the airport and 6.2 miles away from the Bhubaneswar railway station. Lemon Tree Mountain Resort, Kasauli is also located just 6.2 miles away from the Kalka railway station. 

“We are pleased to partner with Birendra Hotels and Banquets for our signing in Bhubaneswar and with Atithivan Hospitality for the one in Kasauli. The two additions under two diverse models align with our asset-light policy,” said Vikramjit Singh, president of Lemon Tree Hotels.

Pilots to Form Group to Raise Fatigue Woes and Safety Concerns 

Hundreds of Indian airline pilots plan to form an association to challenge flying duty regulations they say cause fatigue and jeopardize safety after an IndiGo pilot collapsed and died before his flight.

Current Regulations: India does not differentiate on the basis of day or night-time and allows pilots to be on duty for 13 hours within a 24-hour span.

While Vistara said duty timings for pilots are planned well within the norms to accommodate any unforeseen disruptions, IndiGo — which operates 1,900 flights a day — said it has a comprehensive fatigue management system that tracks various parameters in line with international best practices.

Skyscanner Launches in Hindi to Localize Travel Booking 

Flight-search engine Skyscanner has launched its website and mobile web experience in Hindi to penetrate deeper into the Indian market with a more localized and user-friendly experience. 

How Travelers Stand to Benefit: When travelers choose a flight option with a partner, they will automatically be redirected to the Hindi locale on the partner’s site if the language option was also available, thus making travel booking more convenient. 

Other Highlights: The Skyscanner mobile app will also be updated with the Hindi language addition across Android and iOS platforms, the company said in a statement.

“Our data is reflecting how Indian travelers are increasingly searching online for travel deals and options in 2023, so we see the addition of the Hindi language as a crucial step in ensuring we are catering to the market,” said Skyscanner Travel Expert Mohit Joshi.  

Mauritius Tourism Holds Roadshows in Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad

India is a key source market for Mauritius, according to Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority’s Director Arvind Bundhun, who was recently leading a delegation of 24 operators from Mauritius to conduct a roadshow in Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad. 

Purpose of the Roadshow: As a platform for local stakeholders to meet, bond and conduct business with the Indian travel trade, the roadshow is aimed to propel Mauritius’ presence in the market as a destination for all segments of travelers. 

Air Connectivity: Mauritius’ flag carrier Air Mauritius resumed direct services to and from Delhi from May 3 with biweekly flights. 

Additionally, Vistara — a joint venture of Tata Group and Singapore Airlines — started direct flight services between Mumbai and Mauritius with a 5 times weekly service. 

“With exponential growth in air connectivity facilitated by Air Mauritius and Vistara, major cities like Mumbai and Delhi are more accessible than ever,” said Bundhun. 

Fortune Hotels Launches Property in Hoshiarpur

Indian hospitality company ITC Hotel Group’s Fortune Hotels has launched Fortune Park Hoshiarpur in the north Indian state of Punjab.

Number of Rooms: 57 

Expansion Plans: The company plans to add 15 new properties with 1,500 rooms in the next two-and-a-half years to its portfolio, Samir said in an interview earlier this year..

“This is our third hotel opening in Punjab in the last three months. Prior to this, we launched two hotels in Amritsar – Fortune Inn Heritage Walk and Fortune Ranjit Vihar. In addition to these, we also have another property in Jalandhar,” said Samir MC, managing director of Fortune Hotels.

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