SpiceJet will operate its first long-haul flight from Amsterdam on August 1 to repatriate Indians “waiting” to come from Europe, the airline said on Monday. Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, special international charter flights are permitted on a case to case basis by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
“SpiceJet will operate its first long-haul flight to bring back Indians waiting to come from Europe. 1st flight departs from Amsterdam on Aug 1. Limited seats available,” the airline said on Twitter. An industry source said the low-cost carrier has “wet-leased” an A330neo wide-body aircraft from a foreign company to operate these long-haul flights to and from Europe.
“The flight will leave from Schiphol airport at Amsterdam at 2.45 PM (local time) on August 1 and will land at Bengaluru at 3.30 AM (local time) on August 2. After disembarking Bengaluru’s passengers, the flight will then head to Hyderabad where it is scheduled to land at 5.35 AM on August 2,” a SpiceJet official said .
In a “wet leased” arrangement, the lessor provides the plane along with its cabin crew, cockpit crew and maintenance crew. A “dry lease” means the lessor will provide the plane only. Since a wide-body plane has a bigger fuel tank, it can operate long-haul flights. Till now, SpiceJet operated only narrow-body Boeing 737s and turboprop Q400 aircraft. India resumed scheduled domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.
Indian airlines have been permitted to operate a maximum of 45 per cent of pre-COVID domestic flights. However, the occupancy rate has remained low domestically at around 50-60 per cent.