Domestic airline GoAir on Thursday said it would begin its international operations from October. The airline would start direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Phuket on October 11; direct flights to Male would commence three days later, CEO Cornelis Vrieswijk said.

The inaugural round-trip fares have been kept lower to attract passengers, with tickets for Male starting at Rs 17,999, and Phuket at Rs 18,999. The carrier said these international destinations would be connected with Bengaluru in the near future.

“India is a hyper competitive market, with even full-service carriers like Air India behaving like low-cost ones when it comes to domestic routes,” Vrieswijk said, adding cost efficiency is the key to survive in a market like India.

“Passing on the higher fuel costs to the customers here is not possible, as pricing here is determined by competition,” he said. The CEO said that if one was unable to achieve growth on the “revenue side, then you must do it on the cost side”. Going forward, he said, “only an airline that is able to control its costs best will survive”.

Thus, Vrieswijk said, he had trained his guns on making the carrier as cost efficient as possible. “Oil and forex factors have been hurting the business significantly in terms of cost. But we have extremely efficient aircraft to help us overcome this,” he said, adding that the company will focus on optimising its network and using the more fuel-efficient NEOs (new engine options) instead of CEOs (current engine options).

Although recent cases of engine failures and malfunctions with respect to A320NEO engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney have disrupted operations, GoAir said it is in close contact with the manufacturer to understand how they are increasing their capacity to help with replacements and repairs in India.

GoAir, which launched its domestic operations in November 2005, was granted rights in August 2016 to operate to nine countries, including China, Vietnam, Maldives, Kazakhstan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, among others, the Press Trust of India reported.

When asked about the company’s IPO plans, Vrieswijk said a listing was not on the agenda for GoAir at the moment, adding that the company would focus on increasing the frequency of its international flights, adding more destinations and explore innovative marketing ideas like hosting a wedding on board a flight.

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