According to a news report, IndiGo is leasing 3 B777 aircraft in order to expand internationally in the near term.
First widebody aircraft
IndiGo is wet-leasing 3 Boeing B777 aircraft. Wet-leasing an aircraft means leasing an aircraft and its crew both from the lessor. The advantage of wet-leasing an aircraft is that the airline does not need to train or hire pilots and crew for a new type of aircraft, in this case, B777 for IndiGo.
Reportedly, these aircraft would be coming from Turkish Airlines, IndiGo’s codeshare partner. These aircraft would be able to operate medium to long haul routes and will feature Business and Economy Class.
International air travel is going through a strong period of recovery, and demand continues to rise in the upcoming festive and winter season. This is a positive sign for the industry and IndiGo remains very bullish on strong growth for international travel to and from India in the future. However, as the aviation industry globally continues to face significant supply chain disruptions, we have been exploring a multitude of solutions to enable us to continue our operations smoothly and to provide our customers with efficient and affordable travel.said an IndiGo spokesperson.
As an interim measure, we have decided to take on wet/ damp lease certain aircraft to cover the shortfall for our scheduled international operations. We have received an in-principle approval from the regulators for the same and the induction of these aircrafts remains subject to further requisite regulatory approvals. We are committed to exploring every opportunity possible to overcome these capacity challenges and provide our customers with efficient and affordable air travel.added the IndiGo spokesperson.
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Currently, Air India and Vistara are the only two airlines that operate widebody aircraft in India.
Airlines generally take some time to introduce new routes and it is not possible for an airline to launch new routes at such a short notice. “Industry insiders” say that IndiGo will deploy the wide bodies on high density medium range routes it already operates using its current fleet of Airbus A320 family aircraft.
Most likely, these aircraft would be deployed on routes between India and Istanbul. IndiGo today announced that it is launching flights on Mumbai-Istanbul route in January 2023. The airline already operates a daily flight on Delhi-Istanbul route. So it may likely be the case that the B777 aircraft will first be deployed on routes out of Delhi and then out of Mumbai. For now, both the routes are scheduled to be operated by A321neo aircraft.
As aforementioned, the B777 aircraft will feature Business and Economy Class. Till now, IndiGo has been a pure low-cost carrier offering only Economy Class. So it will be interesting to see how IndiGo will do with its Business Class product in terms of passengers’ experience and the service in general.
The situation at IndiGo
IndiGo, India’s largest carrier, is currently enjoying almost 60% domestic market share in India with 275 Airbus A320 family and ATR aircraft. The situation that IndiGo is in right now is that there is little to no scope for the airline to expand domestically.
Senior executives at IndiGo have been indicating since the past few months that IndiGo will look to expand internationally. But there’s a problem.
Supply chain issues
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global supply chain has taken a hit. IndiGo is solely reliant on Airbus for its aircraft (considering that it uses ATR only for regional routes). IndiGo has Airbus A321XLR (Extra Long Range) aircraft on order which will be delivered 2024 onwards.
In addition to that, currently, more than 30 aircraft are grounded for new engines. And due to global supply chain issue, IndiGo has been facing a delay in inducting new aircraft.
Pieter Elbers, CEO, IndiGo, had recently told Times of India in an interview that the carrier has had to defer sending some relatively older aircraft out of its fleet due to the same issue.
It will be both good and at the same time odd to see IndiGo’s livery on widebody aircraft. It’s a necessity for IndiGo right now as it seems that it wants to start expanding internationally sooner than later.
It may also be the case that B777 will not be the aircraft type that IndiGo goes ahead with. We will have to wait for an official confirmation from IndiGo to make things clear.
Featured image of IndiGo’s Airbus A321neo aircraft by IndiGo
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