IndiGo, India’s largest private sector airline, turned optimistic about new non-stop international routes on its single-aisle A-320/A-321 series aircraft. In an exclusive interaction with NDTV, the airline’s chief executive officer (CEO) Ronojoy Dutta expressed that it may operate profitably on the new routes with the mentioned fleet.
“One of the best things we have going for us is geography. Our aircraft – our single aisle aircraft can go up to seven hours. So from Delhi, we can go all the way to Moscow, Tel Aviv, places like that. From Mumbai, we can go to lots of places in Africa. From Chennai, we can go to Indonesia. From Kolkata, we can go to Beijing. So if you look at the circle that surrounds us in our narrow body aircraft, we are all the way from Moscow to Tel Aviv to Nairobi to Manila. That’s a huge circle,” he said.
Here are the edited excerpts from the interaction with Mr Dutta:
How non-stop international travel on new routes will be key to IndiGo’s future international expansion?
“I also have to say it’s a very untapped geography. If you ask how do people get to these places today? Well, they all go one stop. So you want to go to Africa. Guess what, you’ve got to go to Doha and change planes. You want to go to Kazakhstan, you go to Dubai, you want to go to Manila, you go to Singapore. Now we are saying we will go there nonstop. So it’s a very rich geography, which is being served through one stop carriers and we will go nonstop with a low cost carrier.”
Whether IndiGo will operate widebody aircraft (they presently operate only single aisle jetliners of the Airbus A-320 family)?
“Absolutely … So our focus is domestic. Let’s build it. Let’s not be impatient. The next phase is near seven hour range. And after that, phase three will be whiteboard.”
When will phase three happen?
“Forecasting is dangerous and not near term, but it will happen.”
How the competitive landscape in the civil aviation sector is going to change?
“So the competitive landscape is clearly going to get very intense in the near future? We have the Tatas – looks like they’re bidding for Air India. So there’ll be Air India, Vistara, Air Asia, they’ll probably be rationalized in some way. There’s a Jet Airways too, on the horizon. So the competitive landscape is going to get very intense. So what do we do about it? Well, we’re going to focus on our strengths. Our number one, and our biggest strength is that we are one of the lowest cost airlines in the world, our cost structure keeps getting better over time because we burn less fuel with the new engines. The second is we are in a world class airline. And look in terms of on time performance. I think all of India accepts we are number one.”
An increase in the number of flights being flown by IndiGo?
“Just to give you some numbers, pre COVID, we were doing 1,500 departures a day. Back in May, we were doing about 350 departures a day. So we really went down sharply. Fortunately, since then, we’ve been building back up. And right now we’re doing about 1,150 departures a day. So things are improving. Just as importantly, international [aviation] is gradually opening. Now it’s very slow. But a few countries have started doing bubble flights. So all in all things have improved dramatically.”
Current status of domestic aviation sector: Still in mess?
“From a financial health standpoint, we are not particularly concerned that oh my god, we’re running out of money. That’s not happening … Yes, [there has been a] liquidity crisis in the industry, and yes, we suffered along with it. But I don’t think we are in the red zone category by any means. And so we are fairly optimistic about the future. We’ve gone through a very bad period. But whether it’s near term or long term, I think the future for IndiGo is quite bright.”