While many airline executives remain rather gloomy about the near future, IndiGo’s CEO has a different perspective. The airline expects to be back to 100% of domestic capacity in three months. Furthermore, it has its eyes set on a full international recovery by the end of the year – and sees huge opportunities for growth post-pandemic.
Currently only at 28% of international flights
In an interview with US media outlet CNBC this week, IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta presented a more optimistic outlook than most airline executives. Many industry voices say they are expecting demand to remain stunted until 2024. However, Mr Dutta believes that IndiGo will be back to pre-pandemic levels as soon as the start of 2022 and said he couldn’t wait to get there.
India’s largest airline in passenger numbers is currently only at 28% of its pre-COVID international capacity. However, the airline’s CEO says he anticipates a full recovery “by the end of the calendar year 2021.”
Domestic traffic has made a much stronger return, and IndiGo is at 80% of pre-pandemic levels in terms of capacity. Mr Dutta said he expects a return to 100% of domestic capacity by April at the latest. But IndiGo does not intend to stop there.
“Once the pandemic crisis is behind us, we see lots of opportunity for growth,” Mr Dutta said in the interview seen by Simple Flying. “There is a huge amount of pent-up demand if you will as the economy recovers for more domestic travel.”
The picture internationally is “even brighter,” particularly in the segment of six to seven hours out of India; a circle including Russia, Egypt, Malaysia, and China. Mr Dutta said he was itching to get to 2022 and make use of IndiGo’s upcoming fleet expansion.
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Huge fleet expansion to support growth
Due to the strong recovery of India’s domestic market, IndiGo will now be self-sufficient in funding said fleet expansion, its CEO says. Airbus’ biggest customer from 2020 has over 600 of the A320neo family on order. This includes the game-changing A321XLR, which will begin arriving from 2023 and support the international expansion to which Mr Dutta is referring.
However, India has currently extended its ban on international commercial passenger flights until the end of February. The ban was initially intended to end on January 31st, following what would have been a ten-month long suspension.
Much to look forward to post-crisis
Just how much could IndiGo grow once the veil of the pandemic and its repercussions is lifted? Simple Flying’s lead reporter for India believes the airline has a lot to look forward to with new destinations across Asia and Europe opening up. The carrier’s CEO seems to agree with his assessment, and it is good to hear voices of optimism during the current situation.
Do you believe IndiGo can make a full recovery by the end of the year? Where will the airline go from then? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.