Boosted by a fast recovery of the domestic aviation market of India to almost 80 per cent of the pre pandemic levels, as well as by its financial strength used for enhancing its market share even as rivals are struggling, India’s IndiGo airlines has become one of the biggest airlines of the world by capacity.
According to data firm OAG, the Indian airline is the seventh largest in eth world in terms of capacity and the largest one other than those of the United States and China. This also marks a bright spot in the otherwise severely bruised global aviation industry and this performance has provided a lifeline to squeezed lessors and aircraft manufacturers as airlines are now able to pay their bills on on time and in full.
Last year, 44 aircraft was taken from Airbus SE by IndiGo which is the highest that ay airline in eth world has taken and is higher in number than US’s Delta Air Lines Inc and the Chinese airline China Southern Airlines Co Ltd. These new aircrafts are a part of IndiGo’s new plans to replace its older models with more fuel efficient models. The airline is also preparing to further expand its fleet from 2023.
The company’s CEO Ronojoy Dutta said that during the pandemic hit 2020, the IndiGo increased its domestic market share from 47 per cent in 2019 to 52 per cent and is also looking at achieving a potential profitability after reporting a loss in its last fiscal year. In the meantime, the airline has also expanded its reach and routes to fly to smaller Indian cities such as Ranchi, Patna and Gorakhpur so that it is able to compensate for the drop in business travel during the pandemic which is typically seen on the larger routes like New Delhi-Mumbai.
Non-stop flights to international destinations like Moscow, Cairo and Manila will also help the airline to achieve faster growth and higher margins, the airline hopes. The company says that its narrowbody planes would be ideal to cater to such international routes which would also eliminate the requirement of use of widebody aircraft in its feet which is often confusing for airlines.
“As things stabilise, I’m very optimistic that by the end of 2021, I think we’ll be totally back to normal,” Dutta said, referring to the calendar year rather than the financial year ending March 31.
“And I think 2022 will be a great year for us in terms of growth and profitability,” he added.
Global air travel was brought to a virtual standstill because of the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in hefty losses to airlines. A very tough lockdown was imposed for three months in India and the government now allows airlines to fly with only 80 per cent of their capacity on domestic routes.
“IndiGo has cleverly identified its bases within India and is now getting ready to spread its tentacles all across the sub-continent,” said Shukor Yusof, head of Malaysia-based aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.
(Adapted from BusinessWorld.in)