Another foreign airline is likely to cease flying to India in the near future, following in the footsteps of Wow Air.
Iceland’s Wow Air started Delhi service last month but only operated flights from Reykjavik for just over one month.
Now Air Italy (49 per cent owned by Qatar Airways) is expected to suspend its services linking Milan Malpensa with Mumbai and Delhi in the coming weeks.
Air Italy has yet to confirm the news officially, but according to the carrier’s website the final flight to Mumbai will be on February 16 with Delhi following one month later on March 28.
No schedule details or reservations are possible with Air Italy after the above dates.
The news did not come as a surprise to myself. Why? Because Delhi-based aviation analyst Vinamra Longani had predicted this scenario some weeks ago.
He had spotted that Air Italy’s seat inventory for the summer months [for these routes] displayed only the expensive tariffs.
When airlines are about to close a route they remove their promotional fares in order to discourage new bookings.
I well remember this happening with Air AsiaX in the days leading up to the closure of its London route in 2012. At the time I was puzzled as to why this budget airline would only sell tickets costing substantially more than full-service carriers.
Why has Air Italy suspended the Mumbai and Delhi routes? India is a low yield market. It’s one that is volume-driven. Unless airlines can achieve a very high load factor and/or get passengers to fly via their hub then profitability will be an issue.
One suspects that this has been the case with Air Italy.
And while researching this piece I also discovered Air Italy will no longer be flying to Bangkok. This is a route it started only last September.
The final Milan Malpensa-Bangkok flight will be on March 30. One suspects the competition from the Gulf carriers is to blame in this case (it’s ironic considering the Qatar Airways ownership) which has depressed yields.