Fresh from expanding its overseas presence with flights to China and Myanmar, IndiGo, India’s largest airline run by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, is preparing to connect more destinations such as London and Vietnam. The budget airline will seek to woo passengers by offering attractive fares, coupled with a strong marketing strategy, IndiGo’s chief commercial officer (CCO) William Boulter said in an interview. Edited excerpts:
How optimistic are you about Myanmar?
Well, Myanmar is a destination for us (where) we think the IndiGo model is best applied. Although the numbers that we looked up before starting operation to Yangon were not, especially, encouraging, the stimulation effect of low-cost carriers can be substantial and typically, one can stimulate the market by 100% pretty quickly, provided you get the right fares and the right marketing strategy. So, Myanmar for us is a little bit on the edge, but we are confident we can stimulate the market.
What’s the update on your plane deliveries?
We have an order of 430 new A320 family aircraft and we continue to take deliveries against that. We are now at about 90 A320-321neos—that have come in—and we continue to take deliveries against that order. We also have an order of 50 ATRs, 20 (of these) have been delivered so far.
IndiGo has applied for permits to fly to London. Will the airline be flying wide-body on this route?
For us, wide-body aircraft is an aspiration, but they are not a firm plan at the moment. It is something we are reviewing. I think our CEO mentioned earlier that we are reviewing wide-body aircraft (options) but we don’t have a firm plan right now.
Any plan to induct A330?
If we decide to go down the wide-body route, then there is a variety of wide bodies that one could potentially acquire. A330 is a good aircraft but there are other aircraft that could also fulfil the missions.
What’s your expansion plans in the upcoming months?
We started flights to Chengdu (China) on 15 September and to Yangon on 20 September. Starting 3 October, we are flying to Hanoi (Vietnam), 18 October we start to Guangzhou (China) and then on 20 October, we start to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). We have a bit of a pause during November-December but you will see us announce new services for the next quarter (January-March 2020). So, we are looking at a number of new destinations, both international and domestic.
IndiGo has drawn up plans to start additional flights to West Asia, mainly to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, and may also enter codeshare partnerships with local airlines. What is the rationale behind expanding in West Asia?
Flying into the Gulf is competitive, but we found great success with our routes there. For instance, we are operating 16 times a day into Dubai and we continue to add new points. We will be operating to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia starting 12 October with new points being added. Our strategy is to operate in all the major cities in the region. Last year, we added Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and earlier this year, we added Jeddah. We found, despite the wide-body competition we face from the big three airlines (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways), we were able to operate profitably. I think that is because we concentrate very much on the point-to-point markets between India and these markets.
Will IndiGo look at codeshare agreements with airlines in China or Myanmar?
No. At the moment, we only have a single codeshare agreement with Turkish Airlines. But we will be adding to that codeshare agreement on a selective basis. We will obviously review opportunities in Myanmar with local carriers but we have no specific target at the moment.
The writer was in Yangon at the invitation of IndiGo.