InterGlobe Aviation promoted budget carrier IndiGo has plans to start flights to Yangon (Myanmar), Istanbul (Turkey), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Gatwick (London)
InterGlobe Aviation promoted budget carrier IndiGo has plans to start flights to Yangon (Myanmar), Istanbul (Turkey), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) and Gatwick (London), sources in the know of the airline’s international expansion plans has told FE. It is not clear though whether the airline will launch these flights in the winter schedule or in the next calendar year.
IndiGo, in a communication on internal job postings (IJP), sent on September 3, has asked its employees to apply for certain positions for functions at the following airports — London, Gatwick, Yangon International Airport and Riyadh. The airline will close the applications as early as September 10 for all these stations.
“Basically if there is hiring through IJP it means that the airline will mount flights to these destinations otherwise it will not allocate resources,” said an airline executive.
Simultaneously, IndiGo is also sending its pilots for training for the Airbus A321LRs that its management has stated will induct by the end of this year. This aircraft type, that can fly longer distances than the existing fleet of A320s of IndiGo will be deployed to fly to some of these destinations. Pilots close to the development confirmed to FE that Istanbul too is one of the destinations the airline is looking to fly to soon.
In a response to FE query, IndiGo said,“IndiGo will continue to explore the untapped markets of tier II and tier III cities and the short haul international markets. We recently announced Kuwait and Abu Dhabi. We will operate first flights between Kuwait and Chennai & Calicut and Abu Dhabi starting October this year. There will be announcements of more destinations in due course, as we have rights to fly into international markets like Male, Jeddah and Hong Kong. IndiGo’s focus remains on providing the lowest fare travel for the fast growing Indian market and its close neighbours”.
IndiGo’s Rahul Bhatia, co-founder and Interim CEO, in an earnings call for the first quarter, had said while the airline is focused on building its domestic network, it will also continue to reconnect international destinations to additional cities in India and also open up new destinations internationally.
“With our existing fleet and the new A321neos that is expected to start getting delivered towards the end of this year IndiGo will have the capability to reach to cities in China, Middle East and Southeast Asia.”
Balu Ramchandran , head (air and distribution) at online travel company Cleartrip says with these flights in the pipeline IndiGo is following the same strategy it has done for the domestic market.
“IndiGo has deployed a lot of capacity on the metros and other routes in the domestic market and gained leadership. Along with this, it also has deployed capacity in the markets that that were never tested before by other carriers at right pricing, opening up these markets. It will deploy the same strategy for international routes.”
IndiGo has planned an expansion of 25% on its narrowbody fleet for the current financial year.
Ramchandran added that flights to Istanbul in Turkey will directly put it in competition with Turkish Airlines and also Air India, that operates limited frequency on the route. Something similar was done by IndiGo on the Dubai routes where it challenged Indian carrier Jet Airways and UAE’s Emirates to create a market for the low cost airlines.
“To Yangon, there is limited capacity by the airlines and no direct flights— AirAsiaX and Air India do a one stop operation. Yangon direct will not only dent the existing business of these carriers but it will also open the route for low cost operations for both travel and business passengers as the market matures,” Ramchandran added.
IndiGo flies to 52 destinations, including 18 international cities with a fleet of 169 aircraft, including Airbus A320s and nine ATRs, with a market share of 42.1% .