Budget carrier IndiGo today announced that it would expand its regional market by starting operations with its brand new ATR turbo-prop planes from Hyderabad on December 21. The announcement comes five months after the airline made public its intent to buy 50 ATR turbo-prop planes worth $1.3 billion to tap the regional aviation market and signed a term-sheet with Avions de Transport Regional GIE (ATR) for the purchase. The airline has also launched introductory fares starting Rs 999 on these new routes and bookings open from midnight tonight. “First ATR flight will commence from Hyderabad, starting December 21st, 2017,” IndiGo said in a statement.
“It is indeed a proud moment for all of us who have been working relentlessly to bring our dream of regional flying to reality…These flights will open up a whole new market, improving the choices of air travel to millions of our fellow citizens,” Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole Time Director, IndiGo, said. The airline will also begin ATR operations in its existing network of Chennai, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Madurai and Nagpur. The 74-seater aircraft will also operate to two new tier-2 cities of Tirupati and Rajahmundry, IndiGo added.
The airline will be deploying its fleet of ATR 72-600 aircraft “in a phased manner” in order to connect these cities. The largest domestic airline in terms of market share, IndiGo is also expected to participate in the second round of regional connectivity scheme which aims to enhance air connectivity to tier-2 and tier-3 cities with fares capped at Rs 2,500 per hour of flight. The bidding for the second phase started in August and will conclude by October 26.
IndiGo is expecting to induct up to seven ATR aircraft by March 2018 and 20 planes by December 2018. IndiGo currently has a fleet of 140 Airbus A320 aircraft. IndiGo is only the third scheduled carrier after Air India and Jet Airways to have ATR planes in its fleet. There are 15 ATR 72-500 and three ATR 72-600 planes with Jet Airways. The national carrier’s fleet has three ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft.