Jet Airways Canada to begin flights from Toronto to India

Jet Airways Canada will begin flights from Toronto to India this summer on a route that Air Canada has failed to make profitable several times in the past.

To begin with Jet Airways will provide five flights a week from Toronto through Brussels, destined for New Delhi beginning Aug. 23. JetAirways aim to deliver daily service by the end of October as part of a major push into North America, said Abraham Joseph, a senior general manager for the airline.

"We had Canada in mind ever since we got permission to fly overseas," Mr. Joseph said. "We have a market here with a lot of people travelling to India on business or for vacation. We are hoping to capture a good market share of this traffic."

Canada has a big population o immigrants of Indian descent. But still providing profitable flights to India has proven difficult in the past for Air Canada. Air Canada has attempted routes to Mumbai and New Delhi many times. The latest attempt through London to New Delhi was discontinued on May 1."The market just wasn't there," said Peter Fitzpatrick, Air Canada spokesman.

India is a competitive market, he said, with European carriers, such as British Airways, picking up passengers cheaply from Canada and carrying them on to India. Air Canada flew an Airbus 330 to India the last time, which is the same plane JetAirways plans to fly, with 30 business class and 197 economy seats.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said the 330 could not provide the efficiency needed to make the route profitable.

When Air Canada announced it was discontinuing the route, it raised the ire of the Canada-India Business Council, which sent a scathing letter to the airline's chief executive Montie Brewer.

While the letter acknowledged that the flight was a "loss leader," it warned that canceling the route would alienate the Indian community.

Kam Rathee, the council's president, welcomed the news of JetAirways coming to Canada, saying there is no reason a route to India should not be profitable.

"It's hard to get a seat when you go to India," he said. "[JetAirways] is a very good airline, I fly it all the time when I go to India."

JetAirways Canada hopes that it will be able to leverage its vast domestic network with its international flights to connect people to other Indian cities such as Kochi, Chennai, and Bangalore. In addition, because another flight to Mumbai from Newark arrives at the hub in Brussels at the same time as the Toronto flight, the airline hopes it will increase capacity on both flights by allowing passengers to transfer to the other destination.

Air Canada still offers connections to India, linking passengers with its Star Alliance partners in Zurich, Munich, and Frankfurt. Mr. Brewer has said he has not ruled out returning to the Indian market in 2010, when the airline begins receiving its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. JetAirways was one of the leading domestic carriers in India before it received its overseas license in 2005. The airline plans to add six North American destinations by September, including Toronto.

About Jet Airways Canada

Jet Airways is a top Indian airline and fastest growing with over 370 domestic flights to 44 destinations in India daily and international flights to Colombo, Bangkok, Kathmandu, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Newark, Brussels and London.