Indian low-cost airline IndiGo has just started Boeing 777 operations between Delhi, India, and Istanbul, Turkey.
The move is remarkable in that, until now, the Indian low-cost carrier had stuck to the tried and tested model of using only narrowbody aircraft in a single class configuration.
Boeing 777s have been wet-leased from Turkish Airlines. They are fitted with a two-class cabin, with both business and economy class, seating 400 passengers in total.
In late 2022, the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation granted permission to all Indian carriers to wet lease aircraft from foreign operators for periods of up to one year (previously wet leases were for much shorter periods).
In the last few years, IndiGo has made a big bet on the continued growth of the Indian air travel market by placing the largest order in history for aircraft of the A320 family. It appears that IndiGo can’t get those planes fast enough, though, particularly when supply chain issues for parts and spares have forced the airline to ground a portion of its fleet at times during the last few months.
By subcontracting the Istanbul operation, IndiGo expects to be able to deploy its current A321 fleet in the domestic market. It is also a qualitative step forward in the airline’s international roll out plans, which should accelerate as it begins to receive delivery of long-range A321XLR aircraft from 2024.
These Boeing 777s will provide additional capacity on the Delhi to Istanbul route, catering to the growing traffic between the two countries.
Crucially, these planes will also enhance connectivity between Europe and India, since both IndiGo and Turkish Airlines have a codeshare agreement and extensive networks at the respective ends of this route.