William Boulter, chief commercial officer at IndiGo, briefing about the launch of their Abu Dhabi services. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: India’s largest domestic low budget carrier — IndiGo — announced on Sunday that it will start operating daily flights from Kochi and Kozhikode to Abu Dhabi, marking the company’s first operations to the UAE’s capital.

The carrier already operates 13 daily flights to Dubai and another four to Sharjah, with Abu Dhabi becoming the airline’s 11th international destination. As part of its new operations, the airline will service a daily flight from Kochi-Abu Dhabi starting October 15, and another daily service from Kozhikode-Abu Dhabi from October 16. Prices will start from as low as Dh355 for passengers.

“Today, we are happy to present our two new non-stop services from Abu Dhabi to Kochi and Kozhikode. It’s very exciting to have these two new destinations being served from Abu Dhabi,” said William Boulter, chief commercial officer at IndiGo, announcing the new services.

“Our model is that we start with one or two flights and then quickly build up, so in the future I can see Abu Dhabi being connected with other cities in India. At the moment, we are maximising the traffic rights which are available under the India and UAE bilateral agreement, and we look forward to that bilateral tie being expanded in the future because there is a huge demand between India and the UAE,” he added, highlighting how the carrier envisioned more flights operating to Abu Dhabi.

Boulter said the flights would be operated by the airline’s Airbus A320 models, with a single class configuration and a passenger capacity of 180 to 186 passengers.

Commenting on the market demand for operating the new routes, Boulter said that Abu Dhabi was a highly attractive market to add to the airline’s already successful UAE portfolio. “We felt that Abu Dhabi was a market that still had some room for service to India. There’s a large Indian community working here and they need to go home from time to time. Equally, there’s a large proportion of visiting relatives — people from Kerala coming to visit their relatives working here and vice versa.

“Our market’s study [also] showed quite a lot of passengers were going to Dubai [for flights], but we also think there’s a natural demand to open services between Abu Dhabi and Kerala,” he added.

Boulter said the airline was also aiming to boost tourism from India with the new routes. “We are trying to stimulate leisure travel and to contribute to Abu Dhabi’s tourism [sector]. Abu Dhabi is making a very large investment in developing tourism, particularly on the cultural side.

“India is a very wealthy country and it’s now supporting a lot of outbound tourism; so we are anticipating there will be a tourist demand,” he added.

IndiGo daily flights: 

Starting October 15
• Kochi-Abu Dhabi: departs 13:30pm (Dh355)
• Abu Dhabi-Kochi: departs 4:30am (Dh367)

Starting October 16
• Kozhikode-Abu Dhabi: departs 00:40am (Dh488)
• Abu Dhabi-Kozhikode: departs 17:30pm (Dh363)