The Northern Winter 2022 schedule came into effect on October 30. The regulator approved 21,941 flights per week. This means 3,134 flights per day across airlines. That, incidentally, was the same number of approved flights in winter 2019, the last full schedule before the pandemic.
On the first day of the flight schedule, the airline made 2,687 flights. Although 3,134 departures were not expected to materialize on the first day, the reduced number of authorized flights means that utilization was at 85.74 percent of the approved scheduled flight, almost 10 percent more than authorized versus operating flights for summer 2022.
Each timetable offers interesting combinations of routes in India. Alliance Air, the country’s only government-owned airline, operates the country’s shortest route – 58 kilometers (km) between Guwahati and Silchar. The airline operates this flight three times a week. As for the longest, the record is held by Air India, which operates a direct flight between Delhi and Port Blair for a distance of 2,482 km.
Market leader IndiGo’s shortest ATR route is between Silchar and Shillong, which it operates three times a week. It covers a distance of 134 km in 40 minutes. FlyBig, an all-ATR operator, operates its shortest route between Guwahati and Rupsi, a distance of 167 km. For SpiceJet, the only Q400 operator in India, the shortest turboprop route is between Delhi and Jaipur at 230 km. The airline’s Boeing fleet actually operates a shorter flight between Jammu and Srinagar at 143 km!
All Airbus operators, AirAsia India and Go FIRST have Delhi-Jaipur-Delhi and Jammu-Srinagar-Jammu as their shortest routes respectively. Tata group airline Vistara also operates Jammu-Srinagar-Jammu as its shortest route. Air India’s flight between Kannur and Calicut is the airline’s shortest flight at 95 km. It is also the shortest narrow-body flight in the country.
Akasa Air’s new Guwahati-Agartala route is the shortest for the airline at 248 km, while regional operator Star Air, which is set to induct the E175 into its fleet, has Bengaluru-Hubballi as its shortest route.
While Air India operates the country’s longest route to Port Blair from Delhi, IndiGo’s longest route also touches Port Blair but from Mumbai. It covers a distance of 2,279 km in three hours and 25 minutes. For IndiGo’s ATR fleet, the longest distance it covers is to Kolhapur from Ahmedabad, 732 km in two hours and 10 minutes. At 652 km, FlyBig’s flight to Patna from Guwahati is the longest for the airline.
The two hour and 10 minute flight to Lilabari from Kolkata is the longest for Alliance Air, covering a distance of 766 km. But the 1,456 km Bengaluru-Gwalior sector, operated by the Q400 for SpiceJet, beats them all as the country’s longest turboprop flight. The Q400 has a longer range and higher speed than the ATR, allowing it to cover longer distances.
Airbus, AirAsia India and Go FIRST all have Delhi-Kochi-Delhi and Delhi-Bengaluru-Delhi as their longest routes. Vistara, another Tata Group airline, operates the Delhi-Trivandrum-Delhi sector, which is the longest at 2,232 km.
Akasa Air, which is growing rapidly, has its route between Bengaluru and Guwahati as the longest. Star Air operates the Bengaluru-Jamnagar route as its longest on E145.
Data shared by OAG Aviation, exclusively for this article, shows that Delhi has the maximum weekly departures at 3,214, followed by Mumbai at 2,126. Bengaluru is third with 1,876, while Hyderabad is fourth with 1,194. Chennai is the only other airport that has more than 1,000 domestic departures per week to 1,003.
Bengaluru has overtaken Hyderabad as the airport with the maximum number of airlines operating domestic flights. 10 carriers operate at the airport. The only carrier that does not fly to Bengaluru is FlyBig.
While both the A320neo and the B737 – the main airlines in the narrow body segment – have a range of almost 6,000 km, no two points in the country are that long. One wonders if there is a market for smaller jets that can open up more of these long thin routes.
New airports are likely to be added as the season progresses. These include Rourkela, MOPA and Hollangi among others. For now, a perfect 100 airports are up and running this week! From an airline perspective, market leader IndiGo operates at 74, while Alliance Air operates at 50, Air India operates at 49, SpiceJet at 46, Vistara at 31, Go FIRST at 25, AirAsia India at 18, Star Air at 15 and Akasa Air and FlyBig eight each.