The company also expects to adhere to the May-end deadline of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to replace all faulty Pratt and Whitney engines (P&W) powering its Airbus SE A320neo family of planes with modified engines.
IndiGo will also shortly decide on the status of its operations to China following the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has killed 81 people there.
Consolidated net profit at IndiGo, one of the biggest customers worldwide for Airbus, surged 168% to ₹496 crore in the three months to 31 December from ₹185.17 crore a year earlier. The figure widely surpassed the ₹267.7 crore consensus estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
The airline, which expanded its capacity 19% from a year earlier during the quarter, recorded a 25.53% increase in revenue to ₹10,330 crore in the December quarter.
Revenue beat the ₹8,922.90 crore consensus estimate in the Bloomberg survey.
“We reported a profit before tax of ₹560 crore, with a profit before tax margin of 5.6% compared to 2.3% profit before tax margin for the same quarter last year," IndiGo chief executive Ronojoy Dutta said in a statement.
Dutta said the airline started flights to seven new international destinations and on 17 new domestic routes, operating a peak of 1,634 daily flights in the quarter.
Total costs during the quarter climbed 21.5% from a year earlier to ₹9,773.64 crore. Fuel costs, however, fell 2% to ₹3,341.94 crore.
The airline said it expects to grow capacity by 23% this fiscal as it continues to take delivery of four-five A320neo aircraft each month.
“We are held up due to engine changes and pilot training at the moment. But, after June, we will be able to go full throttle and ramp up our aircraft utilization," Dutta said in a conference call with analysts. “If Airbus gives us planes faster, we will take the planes."
At the end of 31 December, IndiGo had 257 aircraft in its fleet. This consisted of 96 Airbus A320neo planes, 126 A320ceo planes, 10 A321neo and 25 ATR planes.
“IndiGo was able to report better yields during the third quarter. Though the fares haven’t changed much during the last 12 months, IndiGo has been able to optimize its fares during the last two-three quarters," a Mumbai-based analyst at a foreign brokerage said on condition of anonymity.
“The better results are due to the airline being able to get higher revenue (including compensation from Airbus and Pratt and Whitney) and higher yields during the December quarter, along with its ability to keep its costs under control. The falling of fuel price definitely helped the airline," added the analyst.
Dutta confirmed that IndiGo has received financial compensation from Airbus and P&W for the issues with the A320neo planes. He, however declined, to elaborate.
IndiGo’s yields grew 1.2% to ₹3.88 per kilometre at the end of December. Passenger load factor rose to 87.6% from 85.3% a year ago.
Asked about plans to replace all faulty P&W engines on its A320neos with modified engines by DGCA’s deadline, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, president and chief operating officer at IndiGo, said, “The problem and the fix has been identified."
Dutta, meanwhile, declined to comment on the privatization of national carrier Air India Ltd, the expression of interest (EoI) for which was released by the Union government on Monday.
He also said IndiGo would expand its code share pact with Qatar Airways. At present, Qatar Airways has placed its code on IndiGo- operated flights between certain destinations.
Code sharing allows an airline to book its passengers on partner carriers and provide seamless travel to destinations where it has no presence.
“We want to go to more destinations and complete a two- way code share with Qatar Airways," Dutta said, adding that both airlines were keen to broaden their existing relationship.
On flights to China in the wake of the coronavirus scare, Dutta said: “We have seen some cancellations due to the virus situation. We will take decision soon."
IndiGo currently operates flights to Guangzhou and Chengdu from India.
At the end of December, IndiGo’s total debt stood at ₹21,555.3 crore. The airline, however, had ₹20,068.7 crore cash on hand during the same period.