India’s aviation industry has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months, but one of its home carriers is quietly expanding, building traffic, increasing market share and opening new routes every month.
That carrier is IndiGo, India’s fastest growing airline. Headquartered in Delhi but with a secondary base at Mumbai, IndiGo only began operating in 2006 yet today has a fleet of 56 A320s operating 347 daily flights to 32 destinations.
The carrier recently launched international services to Singapore, Bangkok, Muscat and Dubai, and in an exclusive interview with Routes News, its CCO Sanjay Kumar explained that the carrier only expands to carefully selected destinations.
“We have single isle fleet of A320s and we want to focus on a maximum range of five and a half hours flying time, so we are focusing on destinations in South East Asia, Singapore or the Middle East from Delhi. You can go up to Dubai and Muscat, for example, we just don’t want to cross that range when looking at international destinations,” he said.
Careful planning has also influenced IndiGo’s reaction to the predicament facing Kingfisher; while some carriers may have tried to exploit their rival’s financial trouble, IndiGo is being more cautious in its approach, according to Kumar.“We are concerned about the changing dynamism in the market; we are building up our business with our original plan staying focused; nothing has changed for us,” he notes.
So by keeping to this model, would IndiGo look for an airline to partner or codeshare with on long-haul services? Not at this stage he says: “We are not looking at this at the moment, we are sticking to the model of providing connectivity based on our own network and point-to-point, and nothing beyond it, in terms of codesharing and partners.”
The core of IndiGo’s network is its short-haul commuter routes linking the rapidly expanding cities of India. Indeed, the carrier recently launched six direct flights between Mumbai, Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam, and Kumar says these are successful because IndiGo keeps the product simple and convenient.
“We have a mix of business and leisure since we have grown our network quite substantially in the domestic market. It’s a mixture; there was a time when we started we were more leisure than business, now it’s a healthy mix.”
“I believe they [business passengers] are very happy with the product because the schedules are great, frequencies are good on the main metro routes where the business travellers want to travel on. Also the reliability and great on time performance is what is making them come back to IndiGo,” Kumar explains.