Budget carrier SpiceJet on Monday said it has inked an initial pact with Gulf-based Emirates for code-share partnership, a move that will give wider connectivity to its passengers on the latter's network across the US, Europe, Africa and Middle East.
In turn, Emirates' passengers will enjoy unhindered access to SpiceJet's 51 domestic destinations -- 10 through direct connectivity and rest 41 through connecting flights, the airline said in a release.
SpiceJet's first code-share partnership with Emirates, which is subject to regulatory approvals, assumes significance in the back drop of the temporary grounding of domestic carrier Jet Airways, which has investment from Emirates' rival carrier Etihad.
Before grounding all its flights to and from Etihad's hub Abu Dhabi on March 18, Jet Airways had sizeable operations to the UAE capital city.
"I am delighted to announce that as part of SpiceJet's international expansion strategy, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a code-share agreement with Emirates. This new partnership should immensely benefit passengers travelling on both airlines," SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh was quoted as saying in the release.
Code-sharing allows an airline to book its passengers on its partner carriers and provide seamless travel to destinations where it has no presence.
This is SpiceJet's second partnership, since Singh took over control of it, with an overseas airline. In 2016, it had signed an interline pact with German scheduled operator and service distributor Hahn Air.
An interline arrangement refers to a pact to issue and accept tickets for flights that are operated by the partner airline. When selling an interline ticket, the operating airline's own flight numbers are used.
Besides 51 domestic destinations, SpiceJet also operates flights to nine international destinations.
Dubai based-Emirates, apart from flying to 159 destinations across 86 countries and territories globally, also has operations to and from nine Indian cities.
SpiceJet passengers from India will be able to enjoy seamless connectivity leveraging Emirates vast network across Europe, Africa, America and the Middle East, Singh said, adding that those travelling to India on Emirates will be able to travel to 51 destinations on its domestic network.
"Our journey in India has been defined by progressive investment, partnership and growth. This partnership with SpiceJet and the mutual expansion of our network will go a long way," said Adnan Kazim, Emirates' divisional senior vice president, strategic planning, revenue optimisation and aeropolitical affairs.
As part of the proposed partnership, the passengers of the budget carrier travelling from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Amritsar, Jaipur, Pune, Mangaluru, Madurai, Kozhikode and 41 other domestic destinations that the airline operates to, will be able to access Emirates global network, including destinations like London, Paris, Frankfurt, Manchester and Amsterdam, the airline said.
The proposed code-share agreement will also open up flights for Indian travellers to North and South American destinations such as New York, Washington, Toronto, and Sao Paulo as well as Middle Eastern destinations like Jeddah, Kuwait and Amman, operated by Emirates, the statement said.
Optimised scheduling will allow for minimal transit times between India and these global destinations and travellers on these code-share routes will be able to book connecting flights using a single reservation, SpiceJet said.
The partnership will bolster Emirates' already extensive network, adding a total of 67 weekly connections between its hub in Dubai to destinations like Delhi, Kochi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Jaipur, Pune, Mangaluru, Madurai and Kozhikode, it added.
This includes increased domestic connectivity from Emirates' nine Indian gateways to points such as Goa, Hubli, Guwahati, Vishakhapatnam and Tuticorin, which would allow for a greater variety of travel options between both Emirates and SpiceJet flights.