SpiceJet (SG, Delhi Int'l) is planning to start commercial flights to the United States using its existing B737 fleet. In its application for a foreign air carrier permit and exemption authority, the Indian budget carrier told the US Department of Transportation it would target the passenger repatriation as well as cargo sectors.

"SpiceJet plans to start operating charters carrying Covid-19 PPE cargo, and repatriation passengers between Delhi Int'l, India and New York JFK, as soon as possible, thus contributing to the ongoing relief operations to combat the Covid-19 pandemic," it said.

For its proposed US operations, SpiceJet has sought authorisation to use its B737-700(BDSF) freighters as well as a B737-800(BCF) and four B737-800s. However, subject to appropriate authorisations, it said it may instead begin charter flights through a wet-lease arrangement and then transition to its own fleet thereafter.

"SpiceJet may expand its fleet of aircraft used for US operations in the near future, including wet leases, subject to appropriate arrangements and approvals," it added. "It will further develop its cargo and passenger services once the Covid-19 epidemic subsides."

The Indian LCC has requested expedited processing of its application to allow it to begin the proposed services as soon as possible.

With the demise of Jet Airways (JAI, Mumbai Int'l), Air India (AI, Mumbai Int'l) is the only Indian carrier to ply routes to the United States where it serves Chicago O'Hare, New York JFK, New York Newark, San Francisco, CA, and Washington Dulles from Delhi. From Mumbai Int'l, it serves Newark.

Given the distances involved and the range of the B737-800s, it is likely SpiceJet will employ widebody ACMI capacity for its passenger flights to the US. As such, it is recalled that for its European debut due on December 4, SpiceJet will wet-lease an A330-900 from Hi Fly (5K, Beja) for 3x weekly flights between Delhi and London Heathrow.