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IndiGo goes big with its international plans

IndiGo has announced a huge international expansion plan. The destinations are the same which have been rumoured for quite some time now. Let’s take a detailed look.

Mumbai gets two new IndiGo destinations

IndiGo will start direct flights from Mumbai to Nairobi, Kenya and Jakarta, Indonesia in late July or early August. While the dates have not been announced, this is an exciting development nonetheless.

Mumbai-Nairobi route has a monopoly currently, with Kenya Airways operating double-daily flights. IndiGo will provide the much-needed competition on this route, while also increasing the capacity to Kenya. Nairobi will be the first African destination for IndiGo. The low-cost carrier will be the second Indian airline to offer flights to Kenya after Air India.

This will mostly be the first time that Mumbai and Jakarta will be connected with a nonstop flight. This is a totally new market. Jakarta is one of the destinations to which nonstop flights have been requested since some time now. Garuda Indonesia used to offer flights between Mumbai and Denpasar (Bali) a few years ago but since then, Mumbai has not had a nonstop connection to Indonesia.

Central Asian expansion from Delhi

In August and September 2023, IndiGo will start nonstop flights from Delhi to the following Central Asian destinations:

  • Tbilisi, Georgia: 3-weekly flights (starting in August)
  • Baku, Azerbaijan: 4-weekly flights (starting in August)
  • Tashkent, Uzbekistan: 4-weekly flights (starting in September)
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan: 3-weekly flights (starting in September)

The execution of this large-scale international expansion is an integral part in IndiGo’s strategy of moving “Towards New Heights and Across New Frontiers” under the aegis of its CEO, Pieter Elbers, who joined the airline ten months ago.

We are absolutely excited to embark further on our ambitious international network expansion plans, in line with our commitment to giving wings to the Indian nation. As we steadfastly execute our strategy Towards New Heights and Across New Frontiers’, we are poised to establish unparalleled connections between people and places. The addition of these exciting new destinations, new direct flight routes, enhanced flight frequencies, and strategic codeshare partnerships, will help us expand our footprint across four continents with Africa and Central Asia being penetrated for the first time. With this expansion in our network, we will now be directly touching 32 international destinations (up from 26), next to our 78 domestic destinations.

said Pieter Elbers, CEO, IndiGo.

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This expansion will take IndiGo’s number of international destinations served from 26 to 32. The low-cost carrier will therefore introduce 174-weekly international flights between June and September 2023.

IndiGo will also resume its daily nonstop flight between Delhi and Hong Kong, which was introduced three years ago just before the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result was suspended.

What to make of this expansion?

IndiGo has long had a strong hold on the Indian domestic market. For the past few months, senior executives at the airline have been saying that there’s no further scope of expansion in the domestic market, saying that having a strong international network will be the next ambition for the airline.

Nairobi, Jakarta and the Central Asian destinations that IndiGo is starting flights to have long been rumoured to join the IndiGo network. Nairobi is a market which sees a lot of Business and VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) traffic. On the other hand, Jakarta is a untested market so it will be interesting to see how IndiGo will develop this market.

Central Asia is also a new market. India’s biggest international airline, Air India, also does not have a presence in Central Asia. For years, Central Asian airlines have had flights to India but not Indian airlines to Central Asia, meaning it was a one-sided game. Now, that is changing and for good. Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are countries which are seeing an increasing tourism traffic year-after-year. It’s good to see that IndiGo is starting these markets with a number of weekly flights and not directly going daily. There can be two reasons. One can be that it is just testing these markets or the other can be that it is waiting for these markets to mature.

One thing which in my opinion is still not doing right is the Food&Beverage game on these 5-6 hours hop. IndiGo only serves hot meals on flights to Istanbul and nowhere else. Nairobi and Jakarta will be 6-7 hour flights and passengers will certainly expect the airline to offer buy-on-board or pre-booked hot meals. And while this not be a “big issue”, in my opinion, this is very important.

Featured image by IndiGo

What do you think of IndiGo’s next round of international expansion? Let me know in the comments section below.

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