Singapore Air’s Critical Fight Against Emirates in India

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Uh-oh! It seems there’s a rift in the airline industry recently as Singapore Air’s critical fight against Emirates in India centers around a squabble over Indian international travelers – one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets. [1] On Wednesday, VistaraSingapore Airline’s Indian conglomerate – made its first international flight from New Delhi to Singapore, marking the beginning of a long struggle against Middle East airline powerhouses such as Emirates and Etihad Airways – the dominant airlines of India’s overseas flights.

With a monopoly over economical airlines in Southeast Asia, Singapore Air’s objective is quite evident. According to the International Air Transport Association, with an annual growth rate of 6.1%, the number of Indian international travelers is expected to hit 520 million by 2037,[2] and Singapore Air plans to take full advantage.

Gulf Area Monopoly

Middle Eastern airlines make up the majority in India’s aviation market. Vistara will concentrate on growing in both Southeast Asia and the Middle East this year, CEO Leslie Thng informed reporters in Singapore after the initial flight landed in Changi airport around 8 in the morning on Wednesday. The Singapore Air affiliate plans to launch a fleet of 41 by the end of this year and to reach 70 by 2023, Thng quantified. 

Singapore Air owns 49% of Vistara, while the Indian company, Tata Group, owns the remaining 51%. This is because India does not permit overseas airlines to fly between domestic airports, except for partnering with an Indian company to launch a national airline.

The “Indian Carrier”

Vistara is to play a huge role in Singapore Air’s international growth strategy, and such tactics will offer more opportunities for the Southeast Asian airline, said spokesman for Singapore Air

Nevertheless, dominant Middle East airlines have a prominent history with the Indian aviation market. Customarily, they’ve flown Indian passengers westward to Dubai and Abu Dhabi on budget-friendly fares, before boarding them on flights to Europe and North America. Frequently nicknamed the “unofficial national carrier of India,” Emirates held almost 15% of the Indian aviation market to and from Indian in 2018. [1]

The fares advertised by economy airlines in India’s profound price-intensive market poses another threat for Singapore Air. For instance, the rate of a Vistara flight from New Delhi to Singapore on August 28th is 17,379 rupees ($245) compared to a 7,745 rupee flight with AirAsia on the same route, adding a stop in Kuala Lumpur. [1] With that said, if you’re planning to travel to the Middle East or India within the next few months, make sure to double-check with your travel agent to get you the best price for your flight. 

Have any questions regarding Singapore Air’s critical fight against Emirates in India? Or you’re just looking into aviation jobs like how to become an air traffic controller for an upcoming career change? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our aviation crew here at Sheffield School of Aeronautics.



[1] Bloomberg – Singapore Air Picks Crucial Fight Against Emirates in India

[2] International Air Transport Association – Potential and Challenges of Indian Aviation

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