IndiGo today commenced wide-body aircraft operations for the first time. The airline has started deploying Boeing B777-300ERs on flights between Dubai and Istanbul. The 3 B777s are leased from its codeshare partner, Turkish Airlines.
Wide-body operations – A first for IndiGo
IndiGo flight 6E11 has just landed in Istanbul from Delhi. The flight is a historical one for IndiGo as many firsts for the airline are taking place on this flight. This is the first time that IndiGo is operating wide-body (twin-aisle) aircraft, the airline is providing hot meals and amenities such as blankets and pillows (for a fee). Let’s dig into the details.
IndiGo has wet-leased three Boeing B777-300ERs from Turkish Airlines. While the flight will be operated by Turkish Airlines’ pilots, the crew from both the airlines will be present onboard.
Nearly 200 IndiGo crew underwent training in safety and service procedures from Turkish Airlines to operate these flights. The crew also underwent familiarisation flights on Turkish Airlines aircraft. Additionally, around 100 pilots from Turkish Airlines were trained in Indian aviation security regulations for these operations. And the Turkish Airlines pilots were given a handbook on IndiGo and briefed on the Indian carrier’s operations by the airline management.
Introducing the wide-body aircraft will not only increase the capacity to Istanbul, but also to Europe through codeshare flights with Turkish Airlines. IndiGo is looking forward to offering consumers an even more comfortable and a hassle-free experience with multiple services such as pre-booked Jain meal, veg, or non-veg hot meals according to preference, choice of buying blankets and pillows as well as amenity kits on the flight.said Vinay Malhotra, Head of Global Sales, IndiGo.
The leased B777s are high-density aircraft, featuring 28 Business Class seats and 372 Economy Class seats.
Both the airlines will sell economy class seats under a codeshare agreement. However, the pricing and product will be different. Those booking seats on IndiGo’s website will be able to pre-purchase meals such as chicken tikka masala and zafrani pulao while those booking seats on Turkish Airlines’ website will be offered complimentary meals and amenities. The aircraft has an inflight entertainment system but the same will not be available to those sitting in Economy Class.
Those booking with IndiGo also have the option to pre-book a amenity kit which includes a blanket, pillow, eye-shade and a dental kit. These amenity kits are not just limited to Istanbul flights but will be available on all international sectors for a fee.
Passengers will need to pre-book their amenity kit 24 hours prior to the departure and these amenity kits are limited to only one kit per passenger. Also, these amenity kits are non-refundable, so if a passenger does not use the amenity kit, IndiGo will not refund the amount. In case the airline is not able to offer the amenity kit due to operational reasons, IndiGo will refund the amount.
Passengers must provide a valid Blanket, Pillow & Eye shade pre-booking confirmation to crew on board IndiGo’s flights to receive the pre-booked Blanket, Pillow & Eye shade.
The service standard in Business Class on these IndiGo-operated flights will vary as compared to Turkish Airlines-operated flights.
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Why is IndiGo leasing wide-body aircraft?
Air traffic rights between India and Turkey are limited, allowing just 14-flights-a-week in either direction.
IndiGo and Turkish Airlines have been codeshare partners for a long time. Turkish Airlines operates a daily B777 flight to Delhi and Mumbai while IndiGo operates a daily flight each from Mumbai and Delhi to Istanbul. Turkish Airlines’ growth in India is constrained due to limited traffic rights and this is where IndiGo comes in.
IndiGo has started deploying B777s just to increase capacity on flights to/from Turkey and capitalise on the demand. IndiGo’s B777 flights are timed similar to those of Turkish’s B777 flights. This means that IndiGo’s flights are acting as feeder traffic for onward connections to Europe provided by Turkish Airlines.
The airline has also started flights from Mumbai to Istanbul using Airbus A321LRs (long range) aircraft. The airline will continue to operate those flights with A321s but will eventually shift to B777s after sometime.
Passenger experience on these flights will be interesting to know
While Business Class is bookable only through Turkish Airlines, Economy Class is bookable through both the airlines’ websites. As aforementioned, those booking seats on IndiGo’s website will be able to pre-purchase meals while those booking seats on Turkish Airlines’ website will be offered complimentary meals.
The airlines will have to make it clear beforehand only that the ticket prices includes/does not include a meal. Passengers expect a hot meal on such long flights so IndiGo especially will have to make it clear that meals are not included in the ticket price and passengers will have to pre-order their meals.
Featured image of the wet-leased B777, registered TC-LKA, by JetPhotos/Bora Polater
What do you think of IndiGo deploying B777 aircraft on Delhi-Istanbul flights? Let me know in the comments section below.
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