Low-cost airline IndiGo has sacrificed its airport slots at London Gatwick as it scraps plans to operate a direct route in the region. IndiGo said it has decided to operate other midpoint routes in favour branching out to the capital.
London services quashed for feasibility
Back in May, we reported that IndiGo was looking at providing cheap European flights from its base in India to London within six months. That time is nearly up, but now the airline has reviewed its initial hopes by cutting plans to develop the route.
Speaking to CNBC, IndiGo’s Chief Commercial Officer William Boulter said the airline had slots at Gatwick but decided to give them up. He told the publication:
“…we have a fleet that necessitates midpoint and we have looked at a number of midpoints to London and we have also looked at the operational feasibility of the route. But at the moment it is not something on the immediate next list.”
There had been a suggestion that IndiGo’s A321neo aircraft would have made a direct route to Gatwick possible. IndiGo currently has non-direct flights allowing its passengers to get from Delhi to London Gatwick. The service has a layover in Istanbul.
So, if not Gatwick, what is on IndiGo’s list?
New routes, but not to London
Instead of making its move in London, the airline is looking to branch out into South East Asia. Boulter estimated that around 40% of IndiGo’s operations are now within South East Asia with destinations including Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.
IndiGo has already started making that investment in South East Asia and continues to commit to it. In October, it launched two new connections to Vietnam. Starting from Kolkata, IndiGo now flies to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Boulter suggests that it is business relationships that are encouraging network expansion in this area. He told CBNC that it was business links that prompted the airline to move into Vietnam. The same logic was partly responsible for the airline offering flights from Kolkata to Guangzhou in China which started in September this year.
As well as that, IndiGo is also connecting its cities with others for religious tourism. In his interview with CBNC, Boulter added:
“…all these destinations in South-East Asia have some Buddhist demand for pilgrimage”
If religious pilgrimage is the demand, it makes sense that London is not the right place for IndiGo to be investing right now.
Continued hopes for international expansion
Having said that, IndiGo has not completely scrapped the idea of flying to London Gatwick. A direct route is something the airline is still toying with, although there is no confirmation that the route will definitely go ahead in the future.
It’s still keen on international expansion and has high hopes for 2020. This year, not only has it upped its offensive in South East Asia but its also taken more routes in the Middle East. On 1st October, it launched its service to Sharjah in the UAE from the Punjab city of Amritsar.
Were you hoping for a direct route from India to London Gatwick? Let us know in the comments.