The cat is out of the bag. IndiGo, the domestic leader in India by market share, has long had their desires to fly long-haul. In today’s market, where customers are willing to make a compromise on comfort for lower costs, it is indeed possible, and no-frills low-cost carriers around the world are indeed taking wings. So why not IndiGo long-haul?
Norwegian, Wow and AirAsia are some of the examples that come to mind of airlines which have successfully operated in the mid to long-haul space on a no-frills model. SpiceJet has plans too! Enough is happening in this area to have primarily full-service operators such as British Airways/IAG and Lufthansa to launch low-cost offshoots of their own.
IndiGo’s first strike was to try and pick up Air India’s international network (planes, crew, slots, bilaterals) and the whole nine-yards. However, they seem to have now grown impatient to make it happen on their own, with or without Air India.
IndiGo has revealed to Business Standard’s Arindam Majumdar their plans to fly long-haul from the winter of 2019. While the report refers to it as long-haul-low-cost operation, I’d be careful to call it long-haul-no-frills operations right now.
The report states that IndiGo has requested regulatory approval to operate flights to London, Paris, Hong Kong and Madrid with an Airbus A330 aircraft from Delhi Airport. The airline intends to keep pricing at least 30 percent lower than prevailing prices. IndiGo has earlier reneged Airbus on their offer of the Airbus A330 but seems things will move the other way now.
As per Business Standard,
The airline plans a dense economy seating with a few premium seats (with more leg space) along with unbundled products like meal, priority boarding and seat selection for economy passengers. With A330-200, Level- IAG group’s low cost airline provides 314 seats and 21 premium economy seats and has a six level fare structure. It will fly to secondary airports to take advantage of low airport charge. For instance, in London it will fly to Gatwick airport instead of Heathrow and to Orly airport in Paris instead of the Charles-De-Gaulle Airport.
But that is not all. Indigo will later explore connections to North America as well. And my guess is if they are waiting so long, they will perhaps put their bets on the Airbus A330neo which is scheduled for launch this year with TAP Portugal being the first customer. The A330-900neo will be able to bring 310 passengers on board in a cabin-optimised format and fly about 6500 nautical miles.
Here is hoping we do get to see the A330neo in IndiGo’s livery soon.
What do you think about IndiGo’s plans for the long-haul market?