India’s biggest airline IndiGo is exploring possibilities of increasing its international coverage with the starting of operations at the newly launched Manohar International Airport in north Goa from Thursday.
Located at Mopa, the new airport is the 76th destination for IndiGo and the largest-ever station with 168 weekly flights. It is targeting 1.5 million customers by the end of this year from the new airport. Together with operations at the south Goa airport, IndiGo will have 406 weekly flights to Goa.
Pieter Elbers, CEO, IndiGo said, “We are operating at levels higher than pre-Covid not in all parts but most parts of the world and we will start to look more internationally. We start with eight destinations at the new Goa airport before we add more. Gradually we will look to explore international destinations from this new airport.”
Since IndiGo operates narrow body aircraft (A320 and A321) with a limited fly range, the company has been unable to look at destinations like Western Europe, North and South America and the Pacific.
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It has, therefore, forged codeshare agreements with seven global airlines — Turkish Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, American Airlines, Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic. IndiGo has been able to travel only as far as Istanbul from where its Turkish Airline partnership connects its flyers to other Western destinations.
But, according to Elbers, IndiGo is preparing itself for improving its international presence before the scheduled induction of Airbus A321XLR in 2024.
The company is currently working towards inducting Boeing B777 on a wet lease basis, which will be its first widebody offering. It has sought the nod from the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the wet leasing which are expected to ply on the Delhi-Istanbul route.
“We need to be ready for the XLRs whenever they come. We should be known better internationally in order to have a good international business. We are the seventh largest airline in the world in terms of daily departures but outside India not very well known,” said Elbers.
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Elbers also said that he hopes to hit a tally of 300 aircraft in the first half of the current year. Like some of the other global airlines, IndiGo also has been hit by supply chain issues which has led to the grounding of around 30 of its planes. The airline has around 280 operational aircraft.
“We will wait for an update from Airbus on the XLRs but we hope to see improvement in the supply chain this year and we will reach 300 aircraft in the first half of this year,” Elbers added.