Low cost airline, SpiceJet, said on Wednesday that it would start new flights to six countries, including Afghanistan, China, Hong Kong by end of October this year as part of its plan to expand international operations.

“We will launch flights for Kabul (Afghanistan), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), China, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Male in Maldives. The services to these countries will be start by October end,” company’s CEO, Mr Neil Mills, told reporters here.

He added that the effort would be to connect to these countries from non metro cities here in India. The company is operating its international flight services for Dubai, Kathmandu and Colombo.

SpiceJet today announced expanding its services in northern region by connecting Chandigarh, Amritsar and Srinagar to Delhi.

The carrier will also connect to the cities of Dehradun and Indore to Delhi on its network in coming days, he said, adding that with this launch, SpiceJet would have presence at 37 domestic airports.

SpiceJet, which has average ticket price of Rs 4,000 for domestic flights, is operating 280 flights every day with 36,000 passengers.

When asked about taxation on aviation, Mills rued that Indian aviation companies were facing “very large burden” of taxation, which was one of the factors that affected the industry.

He said domestic airlines have been paying 24 per cent tax on fuel, which is quite higher than 3—4 per cent tax levied by other countries.

“As fuel is 50 per cent of our total cost, 24 per cent is a very significant number,” he said.

He also said that service tax levied on aviation was unusual, as Indian Railways has been kept out of service tax levy.

“The recent service tax on aviation is very unusual..it was something which we were not expecting on aviation because service tax is not imposed on railways,” he said.

He asked why service tax is levied on Indian aviation companies when it was not levied on railways.

On fleet expansion, Mills said that company’s fleet size would be 50 by the end of this year by adding eight more aircraft.

SpiceJet, which claimed to have 18.5 per cent market share in domestic market, last month took delivery of five Q400 aircraft from Bombardier in Canada after getting financed through Export Development Corporation (EDC) of Canada.

These aircraft would serve mainly Tier II and III cities from Delhi.