IndiGo placed an order for 180 Airbus A320neo aircraft with Airbus back in 2011. They followed it up with another order of 250 A320neos in 2014. IndiGo took an option to convert a part of the order to Airbus A321neo. Initially, they converted 25 Airbus A320neos to A321neos. The A321neo will power their long-haul international ambitions. Now, just this past week it was revealed that IndiGo is going for a much bigger order for the A321neo.
According to Airbus, the order and delivery book as of October 2018 looks like this for IndiGo.
This is different than the earlier order book, in the sense that 125 A320neos have moved into the A321neo column. More in line with IndiGo’s style, I say where they order large quantities to get the best price, and also able to operate a whole fleet rather than call it a sub-fleet or a variant. Makes equipment swap easier when mechanical delays happen as well.
IndiGo will pack their Airbus A321neo with around 220 seats, which is the certified limit on the plane. There is no information as yet on the delivery of the additional 125 Airbus A321neos ordered. We do know that the first Airbus A321 registered VT-IUA will be delivered this month. Another couple of A321neos (MSN #8587 & MSN #8655) are currently in production.
Which routes will see the new IndiGo A321neo?
IndiGo in their recent quarterly earnings call mentioned that adding a widebody fleet remains an aspiration, so they haven’t committed to any widebodies yet. They will initially deploy the Airbus A321neo on routes to Middle-East and Far-East.
Will they add capacity on existing routes and/or take up old routes like Mumbai to Singapore and/or open up new routes in the Far-East? There is chatter of IndiGo wanting to fly to Kunming or Guangzhou in China as well. Then there is Mumbai to Shanghai, which Jet Airways wanted to restart. There are so many destinations in the Far-East which IndiGo can fly with the Airbus A321neo, given it will have 150 of them at some point in time.
The Airbus A321neo also opens up many new markets for IndiGo. IndiGo could add an Australia connection from India. They did show interest in recent Western Australia tourism quest for adding flights to Perth. Both Bengaluru to Perth (4007 nm) and Chennai to Perth (3894 nm) are within the range of the Airbus A321neo. It is already known that London will be the first destination in Europe, starting anytime soon. IndiGo also intends to fly to France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland among others.
The other reason for IndiGo to consider a large order is that slots at Metros are hard to come by nowadays. This would help IndiGo add capacity without adding more flights. We have already seen Air India and Jet Airways operate widebody aircraft on the Mumbai – Delhi sector apart from others.
Brace for further expansion in both domestic and international routes especially those beyond the Middle -East. Good news for passengers as IndiGo will fly to more international destinations. Bad news for passenger experience and near-term profitability, as IndiGo will keep pricing low and that would mean that others would be forced to match their low prices.
Can we hope that IndiGo will add some bigger seats up front for better revenue generation onboard their A321neos?