IndiGo will be looking at participating in the second round of bids for Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme, reveals Aditya Ghosh, President & Whole Time Director, IndiGo. He shares plans for new routes in an exclusive interaction with TRAVTALK.
Q) Which new routes will IndiGo be launching?
We have a bunch of new routes coming up. We get airplanes every month, which means that we are flying to new routes almost every month. In July, we are looking at more flights to Doha from Kerala. We also have flights from Bengaluru to Singapore. Then we have a bunch of domestic routes which we would be opening in time.
Q) In terms of international expansion, what would be your strategy?
We will look to connect more points within India to the international destinations that we are already flying to. This would mean more flights from Doha to Kerala, and may be later, we could start flights to Hyderabad as well as Delhi from Doha. After that, we are looking at Dhaka as a possible new destination. However, I would like to state that India and the domestic market here remains our focus.
Q) Would you be participating in the UDAN scheme as well?
We are very interested in it and are keenly considering it. This is the reason why we actively participated in the consultation round that we had with the ministry recently, where we were present throughout and presented our ideas. The target of the ministry is to finalise the bid document by the end of this month for the second round of bidding under the UDAN scheme. Once we look at the routes and the entire document, we’d decide whether we’d like to participate in the scheme or not. We need to see which routes come up for bidding and what kind of competition and traffic there is in that route. We will also look at the fares which are expected to be on these routes and what others are bidding at. There are many things involved and it is way too early to know how it would pan out.
Q) IndiGo has been synonymous with On Time Performance (OTP), but for the last one year, it has been lagging according to the data. Why?
IndiGo continues to be a leading airline and has been synonymous with OTP. However, what has become very clear in the last few months is that certain airlines have been fudging data. Evidence has been given to DGCA, and they have also found truth in it, as a result of which two people have been fired from the Mumbai airport, because they were assisting a particular airline in fudging data. We are the only airline that uses ACARS, which is an electronic form of capturing data, whereas everybody else is going the manual way. Manual data is open to tampering. Now we are looking for DGCA to come up with an investigation report at one level, but more importantly, to come up with a system which is tamper proof and cannot be manipulated. This would mean that everybody would give the data as per one system rather than being open to manipulation. IndiGo provides the take-off data electronically, the moment the door closes and the plane starts moving. Thus, in some ways we are strangely disadvantaged because we were using technology so much. However, at the end of the day, what is clear is that customers fly every day and they know which airline is on time, and that is IndiGo.
Q) IndiGo went live on Travelport’s GDS portal a few months back. How has the response been?
It is gradually taking off. We have got a lot of travel agents connected on the platform and we are rolling it out internationally as well, and taking gradual steps for that.
Q) What would be your strategy looking forward?
Currently, we are focused on bringing in the narrow body aircraft to our A-320 operations. We’ve got around 36 airplanes coming before March next year, which will take us to about 170 A-320s, which would provide a lot more network and options to customers. At the same time, we’ve made this pathbreaking order for ATRs, which is the largest ATR order ever in civil aviation history. We are going to start getting these planes by the end of this year and by December next year, we will have 20 such planes. This would basically mean that in a different market segment, which has not seen much air travel, and certainly hasn’t seen quality air travel, we should be able to bring in the IndiGo product with the same OTP, same reliability, least number of cancellations, cleanest airplanes and the service consistency that people like about IndiGo. Thus, it would be a new exciting chapter in our lives.
“We need to see which routes come up for bidding and what kind of competition and traffic there is in that route. We will also look at the ares which are expected to be on these routes and what others are bidding at. There are many things involved and it is way too early to know how it would pan out,”- Aditya Ghosh President & Whole Time Director, IndiGo, India Travel Award winner
- IndiGo has the largest in-service fleet in India at 135 aircrafts, and the largest order book of any airline in the world at 458 aircrafts. its fleet could expand by up to 46 aircrafts during this financial year, a net addition of almost one aircraft a week. (Source: CAPA)