GURGAON- On Wednesday (Jan 10, 2024), the Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet (SG) Airlines announced its plans to initiate flights to Lakshadweep and Ayodhya. The company’s chief, Ajay Singh, highlighted that the recent capital infusion would fortify the airline.
During the annual general meeting, Singh informed shareholders that a substantial portion of the Rs 2,250 crore funds would be utilized to enhance the airline’s growth.
SpiceJet Ayodhya and Lakshadweep Flights
As of January 7, SpiceJet had 39 aircraft in operation, with 26 grounded, according to data available on the fleet tracking website Planespotter.
Singh assured shareholders that the airline holds exclusive rights, as per the government’s regional connectivity scheme, for flights to Lakshadweep, and the air services to the union territory will be launched soon.
The mention of Lakshadweep flights by the airline chief coincides with the ongoing diplomatic tensions between India and the Maldives.
Some deputy ministers of the Maldives made derogatory comments against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his visit to Lakshadweep.
Consequently, there have been appeals for a boycott of the Maldives, which, after the 2019 pandemic, had become a favored destination for Indian leisure travelers. Various industry bodies and travel booking platforms have joined in making these calls.
Fresh Fund Injection
In the annual general meeting, Singh stated that the recent injection of funds will fortify SpiceJet, making it a more robust and resilient airline in the country. Additionally, he highlighted the potential market opportunities that would arise from this capital infusion.
Furthermore, Singh emphasized that the new capital injection would facilitate the restoration of grounded aircraft to operational status.
Amidst reports suggesting interest from its minority equity partner and global aircraft lessor Carlyle Aviation Partners in acquiring SpiceJet and its cargo arm SpiceXpress, insiders have indicated strong support for the airline from Carlyle. They mentioned that Carlyle is actively interested in both the airline and SpiceXpress.
In the preceding year, Carlyle Aviation Partners had acquired a 7.03 percent stake in SpiceJet.
India Maldives Tension
In the aftermath of statements made by some ministers from the Maldives criticizing Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, numerous Indians have utilized the microblogging platform X (formerly Twitter) to declare that they have canceled their flight and hotel reservations to the Maldives.
Those still eager to travel are now considering vacations in Lakshadweep, particularly after PM Modi’s recent visit to the archipelago.
Even travel companies are responding to the sentiment. Nishant Pitti, the CEO and co-founder of travel booking platform EaseMyTrip, expressed solidarity with the nation, stating, “In solidarity with our nation, @EaseMyTrip has suspended all Maldives flight bookings.”
Tata SIA-owned Full-service carrier Vistara (UK) has announced its intention to assess the demand for flights between the two countries over the next week, emphasizing that the situation is currently evolving. Vistara presently operates one flight each day from Mumbai and Delhi to Male.
Speculation within the Twitter community suggests that over 7,500 hotel bookings in the Maldives and more than 2,300 flight tickets to the islands have been canceled.
The surge in anger and the trending #BoycottMaldives on X occurred following critical remarks by three deputy ministers from the Maldives against Modi.
These remarks came after Modi’s post on ‘X’ following his visit to Lakshadweep, leading to an interpretation that it aimed to promote the Union Territory as an alternative tourist destination to the Maldives.
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