Aviation News

IndiGo to launch flights between Mumbai and Istanbul

IndiGo has announced a brand new international route, Mumbai-Istanbul. This will be the airline’s second route to Istanbul after Delhi-Istanbul.


Starting 1st January 2023, IndiGo will operate a daily flight between Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and Istanbul Airport. The flights from Mumbai to Istanbul will be operated with a short refuelling stop at Ras Al Khaimah while the flights from Istanbul to Mumbai will be operated nonstop. The flights will be operated with the following schedule:

  • Mumbai-Ras Al Khaimah
  • Departure time: 03:10
  • Arrival time: 05:10
  • Flight time: 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • Flight number: 6E17
  • Frequency: Daily
  • Ras Al Khaimah-Istanbul
  • Departure time: 05:50
  • Arrival time: 10:00
  • Flight time: 5 hours and 10 minutes
  • Flight number: 6E17
  • Frequency: Daily
  • Istanbul-Ras Al Khaimah
  • Departure time: 20:55
  • Arrival time: 05:00 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 6 hours and 15 minutes
  • Flight number: 6E18
  • Frequency: Daily

Flights will be operated by Airbus A321neo featuring standard Economy Class seats.

In line with our vision to strengthen international connectivity from India, we have launched a new connection between Mumbai- Istanbul. This will enhance international capacity and offer more options to the consumers. Istanbul is a major city in Turkey which is world-famous for its rich history and culture, stunning scenery, magnificent structures, and a plethora aspects. Istanbul is a prominent center of trade and commerce. Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, is
a mix of iconic old-world charm architecture, strikingly modern high rises, cultural and traditional structures, and what not. Mumbai is all about art, history, culture, food, theatre, cinema, nightlife, and a lot more. We will strive to stay true to our promise of affordable fares, on-time performance, courteous and hassle-free service across wide network.

said Vinay Malhotra, Head of Global Sales, IndiGo.

Creating monopoly from India side

The Bilateral Air Services Agreement between India and Turkey allows airlines to operates a total of 14-weekly flights from each side.

From the Turkish side, Turkish Airlines operates a daily flight to Delhi and Mumbai, completing its quota of the total allowed services. From the Indian side, IndiGo will operate a daily flight from Mumbai and Delhi, completing its quota. This will mean that no other Indian airline would be able to operate flights to Istanbul unless amendments are made to the Bilateral Air Services Agreement.

IndiGo chose Ras Al Khaimah for its refuelling stop

When IndiGo initially launched flights between Delhi and Istanbul, they were meant to be nonstop. However, due to the closure of Pakistani airspace at that time, the airline had to re-route its flights to Istanbul, resulting in longer flight times and more usage of fuel.

Adding to that problem was the range of A321neo that the route was being operated with. A321neo sits just at the edge of the maximum range of Delhi-Istanbul route with full payload, meaning that the aircraft would not be able to operate the route nonstop due to the airspace closure.

Things were so bad that at certain times, IndiGo had to leave some bags of its passengers behind at the airport to meet the maximum payload requirement.

To solve this problem, IndiGo added a refuelling stop in Doha. However, presently, Pakistani airspace is open to Indian airlines and IndiGo is operating its Delhi-Istanbul nonstop as intended back in 2019.

Now, IndiGo will have a fuel stop in Ras Al Khaimah for flights from Mumbai to Istanbul as mentioned above. It’s interesting that the airline has chosen Ras Al Khaimah for its refuelling point, rather than Doha which used to be the refuelling point for Delhi-Istanbul flights back in 2019.

One reason that I can think of is that as IndiGo has recently launched flights to Ras Al Khaimah, it further wants to build its partnership with the airport. I know it’s kind of silly but it can be a possibility.

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More connectivity

At some point of time, IndiGo also used to operate double daily flights from Delhi to Istanbul. Now that has been broke down into two routes: a daily flight each from Delhi and Mumbai. And I kind of like this decision.

IndiGo is operating flights to Istanbul mainly targeting connecting passengers. By adding a direct flight from Mumbai, IndiGo can provide easy connection for passengers from Western and Southern India with less connecting time at Mumbai as the journey time becomes shorter as compared to Delhi for travellers from that particular region. This is good from the passengers’ point of view as their travel time is being cut down.

Also, it seems that IndiGo wants to diversify its network by splitting the flights and not just operate double daily flights on the same route.

The flights are/will be operated in codeshare with Turkish Airlines. The timings of the flights on both the routes are also similar to those of Turkish Airlines’, indicating that IndiGo is trying to feed its own traffic from India onto Turkish Airlines for connectivity beyond Istanbul.

IndiGo is on a roll!

IndiGo recently launched its 100th destination, Ras Al Khaimah in UAE, with daily nonstop flight from Mumbai.

Now with the launch of Mumbai-Istanbul route, the airline is adding yet another international route to its map.

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.

It seems like IndiGo is trying to make the most of what aircraft it has currently in its fleet by expanding in regions like Middle East and South East Asia. Although, there are still some untapped markets like Malaysia, Philippines etc which the airline can look at serving in the near future.

IndiGo will start taking deliveries of Airbus A321XLR (Extra Long Range) aircraft in 2024 and that will open a range of opportunities for the airline to expand internationally.

There’s been some news that IndiGo is wet-leasing three Boeing B777s from Turkish Airlines to meet the aircraft shortage that the airline is currently facing. Although the airline is yet to confirm the same, it had been rumoured that it will deploy these B777s on routes to Istanbul but the website shows that A321s will be used. So it still remains a question that is IndiGo really getting B777s in and if yes, where will these aircraft be deployed if they are not being deployed on flights to Istanbul?

Leaving all these things aside, it’s great to see IndiGo expanding internationally, something which airlines from India have not been good at, apart from Air India.

Featured image by JetPhotos/Abdurahman N

What do you think of IndiGo launching flights between Mumbai and Istanbul? Let me know in the comments section below.

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