IndiGo’s maiden wide-body service plying on the Delhi-Istanbul route is offering business class but only to customers who book tickets through its codeshare partner Turkish Airlines. Flyers booking through the Indian company’s sales channel won’t have the option of flying business class, clarified the Gurugram-based, the country’s largest carrier.
A 400-seater Boeing 777 has been taken on damp lease (flight crew provided by the lessor) by IndiGo comprising 28 business class seats and 372 economy class seats. The 777 had its maiden flight under the IndiGo banner on February 1. It replaced the Airbus A321 that IndiGo was operating until January 31.
IndiGo, which is a low-cost carrier (LCC), has been so far using single aisle, narrow body Airbus A320 and A321 planes on both domestic and international routes. These narrow body planes offer only economy class. The B777 is the first plane in its fleet to have a double aisle and which features business class.
This is the first major change seen at the 16-year old company coming less than six months after KLM veteran Pieter Elbers joined the company as its CEO. IndiGo has a market share of 56% in India’s aviation market, where 80% share is controlled by LCCs.
IndiGo also clarified that the induction of the B777 does not mean that it is transitioning to become a full-service carrier (FSC). India has only two carriers that are FSCs – Air India and Vistara – both of whom belong to the Tata Group.
When asked if IndiGo would look at becoming an FSC, the airline said, “Currently, there are no plans.” The airline, however, said that its own cabin crew will wear Turkish Airlines uniform for now.
“The Boeing 777 aircraft on the Delhi-Istanbul route, is taken on a damp lease. Since it is a codeshare agreement, crew from both the airlines will be present onboard. However, the IndiGo crew members will wear Turkish uniform only on board for now,” the airline added.
In December, IndiGo claimed to have received the approval from India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to wet lease (includes flight crew and cabin crew from the lessor) a Boeing 777 for operating on the Delhi-Istanbul route. The airline subsequently changed the order to take the plane on a damp lease. Due to absence of any long-haul planes in its fleet and being an LCC, IndiGo’s reach has been restricted to South Eastern Europe, West Asia and Southeast Asia. Countries in Western Europe, the US and in the Pacific are not catered to by IndiGo. It, however, has codeshare agreements for these markets with seven airlines.
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