Friday, December 11, 2020

SpiceJet has been on many a sprint in 2020. Can it win the race in 2021?

There were few opportunities that 2020, ravaged as it has been by COVID-19, threw up for the Indian aviation sector. But every time it did, SpiceJet was probably the first off the blocks to latch on to it.

On March 25, the nationwide lockdown came into effect, bringing to halt all economic activities, including flight services. Even as its peers seemed to be finding their way out of the woods, the Ajay Singh-led airline became the first to operate a cargo-on-seat flight, on April 7. By then, it had already carried around 1,400 tons of cargo on 200 domestic and international flights, using its dedicated freighter fleet. As the airline made headlines for its several cargo flights, most of them carrying essential goods, its stock rose over 15 percent within a week, much faster than the Sensex.

The same month, the airline also launched SpiceCare, its air ambulance service to cater to urgent medical needs of those unable to travel due to lockdown restrictions.

In July, a little over a month after domestic flights resumed in end-May, SpiceJet was designated as a scheduled carrier to operate services between India and the UK. It got similar rights for flying to the US too.

On August 1, it operated its ‘first wide-body operation’ flying to Amsterdam. A few days later, it got slots in London’s Heathrow Airport. In October, the airline announced plans to become the first low-cost airline from the country to launch non-stop flights to the UK. The snub was on India’s largest low-cost airline IndiGo, which for long had harboured London aspirations, but was yet to start operations.


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