India’s low-cost carrier IndiGo is set to commence service from Delhi to London Gatwick in March of this year. IndiGo’s first long-range Airbus A321neo aircraft, VT-IUA, arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi last Saturday. The arrival of the new aircraft allows the airline to start offering flights to Europe. IndiGo has placed an order for a total of 150 A321neo aircraft to be added to its current fleet of 206 aircraft.
Delhi to Gatwick
After a few months of rumors, it appears that the Delhi to Gatwick flights will finally become a reality. IndiGo has not officially announced the new route, and there is no mention of London on its website, but the airline has apparently secured slots at Gatwick starting March 31, 2019. IndiGo will operate its Airbus A321neo from Delhi to Gatwick seven days a week. The airline will fly the route with a fuel stop at Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Azerbaijan.
The flights will accommodate as many as 222 passengers in Economy Class, the only class available on IndiGo flights, and arrive at and depart from Gatwick in the evening. Accordingly, the flights are likely to depart from Delhi in the afternoon and arrive at Delhi in the morning. IndiGo will operate the Delhi to Gatwick flights under IndiGo flight number 1, while the Gatwick to Delhi flights will be operated under IndiGo flight number 2. We have also learned that IndiGo will operate its flights out of Terminal 1L, the South Terminal, at Gatwick. Turkish Airlines, which recently signed a codeshare and mutual operation agreement with IndiGo, also uses the South Terminal.
Interestingly, IndiGo is planning on turning its aircraft around in one hour, significantly faster than the average turnaround time of 90 minutes for international flights. This might be very difficult to accomplish for most airlines; however, IndiGo has been recognized for its efficient turnaround times which have been reduced to less than 30 minutes for its smaller aircraft. Accordingly, the airline should be able to realize the aggressive 60-minute turnaround.
IndiGo will compete with several airlines on the route between London and Delhi. Air India, British Airways, Jet Airways, and Virgin Atlantic offer nonstop flights on wide-body aircraft to and from London Heathrow. Nonetheless, the Airbus A321neo aircraft allow IndiGo to offer cheaper tickets compared to its competitors. As IndiGo’s chief commercial officer William Boulter stated “We pride ourselves on having the lowest cost among operators in India… And that enables us to always be competitive. Any price that is put into the market, we will match.”
We will see if the low price will be enough for IndiGo to successfully compete on the Delhi to London route with its narrow-body aircraft, or if the pull of nonstop flights and the comfort of wide-body aircraft will be too much to overcome. IndiGo has also recently announced plans to offer direct services to Istanbul and beyond via its codeshare with Turkish Airlines. If these routes end up being profitable for IndiGo, the airline will very likely expand its route network with more flights to Europe and other parts of the world.
How do you feel about IndiGo’s new service to and from Gatwick? Are you willing to fly on IndiGo for a lower price, or do you prefer nonstop flights and the comfort the other airlines offer?