IndiGo flies past Air India on international routes, deploys more seats

Topics IndiGo | Air India | CAPA

Passenger carrier IndiGo that commands nearly half of the domestic market share has pipped Air India on international routes, revealed an analysis by aviation consultancy firm CAPA. According to the analysis, IndiGo deploys more seats on international routes from India, surging ahead of the national carrier. 

While IndiGo had 11.8 per cent of all the international seats to and fro India in the last week of August, Air India's seat share was 11.4 per cent. Emirates came third with 8.1 per cent, and the rest airlines constituted 68 per cent of the seat share.

With rapid capacity and network addition, IndiGo has managed to fill up the void caused by the closure of Jet Airways, which was the largest carrier on international routes from India last year.

Since June 2018, IndiGo has inducted 70 planes, taking the fleet to 239. It has launched or announced 13 international destinations since April, the latest being Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, which it will link with Delhi in October. It also signed a code-share pact with Turkish Airlines offering passengers onward connections over Istanbul. Currently, the airline flies over 1,400 daily flights, including 144 on overseas routes. 

“IndiGo's focus is on international and we see a more aggressive expansion, including with a wide body fleet, going forward. A new aircraft order is likely, which will indicate IndiGo's international ambitions,” said Kapil Kaul, South Asia chief executive of CAPA.

In contrast, Air India’s fleet has remained stagnant and over a dozen planes have been on ground because of want of spares. Air India, however, plans to make them operational by next month and launch services to Nairobi and Toronto. 

The CAPA analysis does not include number of passengers flown on international routes. Air India flew 1.82 million passengers between April and June, making it the largest airline on overseas routes. This is according to the provisional data available with the civil aviation regulator. 

IndiGo carried 1.49 million passengers in the same period. Air India's low-cost arm Air India transported 1.25 million passengers in the period. 

While IndiGo offers more seats on overseas routes, its capacity measured in terms of available of seat kilometres (ASKs) is still lower than Air India. An airline's ASK is measured by multiplying seats offered with distance flown, and Air India beats IndiGo in this count because of its long-haul flights. 

“It is not possible to acquire more aircraft and compete with IndiGo due to planned disinvestment,” a senior Air India executive said.

IndiGo, however, will continue to grow its international traffic. At its annual general meeting held last week, airline’s Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta had said it aimed to grow 30 per cent this year and over half its growth would come from international routes.  “We expect that half of that growth will go international, half will go domestic,” Dutta had told shareholders. He said the airline was looking at wide-body aircraft as well as Airbus A321 XLR for its international operations.
  • International operations account for over 10.3% of IndiGo's overall seat capacity
  • UAE, Qatar, and Thailand are IndiGo's biggest overseas markets 
  • West Asia routes account for 60% of its international seats, but East Asia's share expected to increase with new flights to China, Myanmar, and Vietnam

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