IndiGo becomes first Indian airline to have 200 planes!


Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, December 6: IndiGo on Thursday became the first Indian carrier to have 200 aircraft in its fleet with a brand new Airbus A320 Neo (VT-IZI) flying into Delhi from Toulouse, France, to join the low cost carrier.

The airline, which started operations on 4 August 4, 2006 with a Delhi-Impal flight, has so far placed orders for 530 Airbus A320 family planes and 50 ATRs. It is yet to receive about 220 A320 Neos, 150 A321 neos and over 40 ATRs from the orders placed earlier.

According to DGCA data, in October, 2018, IndiGo had almost 43% share of domestic air travel market. When it flew over five million domestic passengers in October, it became the first Indian airline to reach that scale of monthly travel figure.

The airline announced its first ever quarterly loss since listing three years ago, of INR 6.521 billion for the July-September, 2018, period versus a profit of INR 5.516 billion in same time last year. A combination of high oil prices, weak rupee and fares that do not reflect the higher costs made India’s only profitable airline fly into red.

The attempts to increase ancillary revenue like its recent decision to charge for all seats during web check-in ran into turbulence with both its passengers and the government. The airline’s massive size has also led to complaints from flyers and parliamentary panel, with the main grouse that some of the airline’s burgeoning staff being arrogant.

The Low Cost Carrier (LCC) is trying to address these issues. Non-availability of "real" hot food, as opposed to put-hot-water-in-noodle-cups, for purchase on board is another issue that bugs IndiGo’s frequent flyers.

While announcing July-September, 2018, result, the airline said its balance sheet remained strong "with a total cash of Rs 131.637 billion including free cash of INR 4.4175 billion."

Founded by Rahul Bhatia of InterGlobe Enterprises and Rakesh Gangwal, the airline is now focussing on spreading its wings in the international market. IndiGo’s plan to bid for Air India did not work out. The airline is for now planning to grow organically in the overseas market, while it does not rule out acquiring another airline "if it makes good business sense".

India has a several financially weak airlines which are looking for investors. Thanks to its constant fleet addition, IndiGo international carriage leapfrog 51.4% with 1.89 million passengers in January-June, 2018, over 1.25 million in the first six months of last year.

IndiGo recently converted its order for 125 Airbus A320 new engine option (Neo) into the bigger A321 Neos that have a range of flying up to 7,400 km. It originally had 25 A321 Neos on order and Airbus’ aircraft order sheet showed that number climbing up to 150, indicating the budget carrier has converted 125 A320Neos on order to the longer version, the A321 Neo.

The 37.57-metre-long A320Neo has a maximum seating capacity and range of 194 (in single class seating) and 6,300 km, respectively. The 44.51-metre-long A321Neo has a maximum seating capacity and range of 244 (in single class seating) and 7,400 km, respectively. IndiGo has slots at London and Gatwick and is likely to start one-stop flights there by next summer.

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