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IndiGo eyes more direct flights to Central Europe, Far East in global push

According to a report in The Financial Express, INDIGO, is looking at more direct flights to Central Europe and the Far East, as the low-cost carrier, which has a domestic market share of 63.2%, embarks on an international expansion plan under CEO Pieter Elbers.

The first phase of this expansion drive was kicked off earlier this week with two direct flights from Mumbai to Nairobi and Jakarta, respectively. Delhi was connected to Tbilisi in Georgia. Direct flights to Baku (Azerbaijan), Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Almaty (Kazakhstan) in Central Asia will happen later this month. For perspective, IndiGo competes with the Air India network on international routes. While Air India has a market share of 23%, IndiGo holds around 16%,according to industry experts.

Vinay Malhotra, global head of sales, IndiGo, said that there were a number of international destinations within the six- to seven-hour flying duration from India, which opened up prospects for the low-cost carrier to fly passengers to and fro from these points.

“India is at an advantageous position geographically, given that there are a large proportion of people who reside between the six to seven-hour flying duration from India. Also, of the aircraft that are expected by IndiGo in the next decade, there are a number of Airbus A321 XLRaircraft, which will give us the opportunity to reach destinations in Central Europe on the west and places in the Far East,” Malhotra said.

Industry sources say that the airline may target destinations such as Frankfurt, Rome and Tel Aviv in the future, and may look at a direct flight from Mumbai to Bali as early as October this year, given that the demand for direct flight services for this route remain high. The company may also connect Delhi to Jakarta in the coming months as part of its wider programme to reach key international destinations from multiple domestic hubs.

The airline currently reaches 79 domestic points (Shivamogga will be connected via Bengaluru this month) and 28 international points. Elbers had said earlier that the company would touch 32 inter-national destinations after its current round of international expansion was completed.

For instance, in West Asia, the airline will be directly connecting Dammam to Lucknow, Chennai and Kochi; Abu Dhabi to Goa, Lucknow, and Ahmedabad; RasAl Khaimahto Hyderabad; Bahrain to Kochi and Jeddah to Ahmedabad.

Along with this, there will be increased frequencies between Mumbai and Dhaka in August, and daily flight services from Delhi to Hong Kong will be resumed this month after it was stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the western side, IndiGo has been strengthening its connectivity to Europe through the codeshare agreement it has with Turkish Airlines. Currently, the codeshare deal offers connectivity to 33 destina-
tions in Europe via Istanbul.

Malhotra says that four points in the US — Washington, New York, Boston and Chicago—are reached via codeshare deals with Turkish Airlines as of now, with the company recently adding Casablanca in Morocco as part of its codeshare arrangement with Turkish Airlines.

The airline also has codeshare arrangements with six other carriers — Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, American Airlines and Qatar Airways — which gives it connectivity across various destinations in the world. Malhotra says that the company is exploring codeshare deals with more carriers, besides direct flight services,as part of its future growth plans.

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