India's biggest carrier Indigo is boosting capacity on its UAE to India routes by 15 percent, announcing it will add 14 flights weekly from Sharjah to Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram in South India.
Sharjah is the low cost carrier's sixth international destination, after Bangkok, Dubai, Kathmandu, Muscat, Sharjah and Singapore. The carrier currently operates 13 flights daily from Dubai and expects operations from Sharjah to grow to a similar level.
"Air traffic growth is expected to slow in Dubai," chief commercial officer, Sanjay Kumar, told Aviation Business. "We don't have a strict target, but we do expect flight capacity in Sharjah will grow to mirror levels we operate out of Dubai very soon."
Indigo's rapid network growth across the Middle East will add to pressures Gulf carriers are facing from low cost carriers. Last month, Oman-based low cost carrier announced flights to Dubai, with fares as low as AED 122. Fares on Indigo's flights out of Sharjah are as low as AED 245 ($66).
At ITB Berlin this month, Emirates CEO Tim Clark said that a "gathering storm" of low cost carriers into the region is imminent. Profits have fallen across the board for airlines in the UAE; when asked how much of an impact more low cost carriers would have on the region, Clark said, "You ain't seen nothing yet."
Indigo recently received its 100th Airbus A320 which it will deploy on the route.
"Fares depend on market conditions, and we want to penetrate the market. We're also focused on point to point connections, so we've partnered with Travelport to leverage their global network of travel agents and appeal to the passengers that fly to Dubai from around the world. We're confident about our strategy," says Kumar.