Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo has begun its expansion into the Indian regional aviation market, using a fleet of 50 new ATR turboprop planes that will begin delivery in just a few short weeks.

With 141 Airbus A320 aircraft in their fleet, IndiGo has grown in 12 years from a startup airline to India’s largest airline in terms of fleet size and passengers carried. In May 2017, Indigo made a statement showing intent to buy 50 ATR turbo-prop planes worth USD $1.3 billion and sign a term-sheet with Avions de Transport Regional GIE (ATR) for regional operations by the end of 2017. The airline announced this in conjunction with the Indian Government’s new UDAN scheme, aiming at making regional air travel in India affordable and to “let the common citizen of the country fly”.

With the first ATR 72-600 (VT-IYA) due to be delivered soon, IndiGo has now opened reservations for its new ATR network. With the slogan “Small aircraft, big news,” IndiGo has shown interest in expanding its regional network from its hubs in metropolitan cities to towns and villages in India that were previously unserved by the airline. In UDAN’s spirit, introductory fares are starting at Rs 999 (USD $16) on these routes.

The first planned route will be from Hyderabad to Bangalore on December 21st, 2017. An Indigo spokesperson said in a press release, “With the introduction of these flights, IndiGo has taken another step towards providing on-time and hassle-free travel experience to the passengers of Tier-II & Tier-III cities as well.” The airline will also begin ATR operations on top of its existing A320 network between Chennai, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Madurai and Nagpur. IndiGo expects to have seven ATR aircraft by March 2018 and 20 planes by December 2018, which will allow the airline to launch flights to the tier-2 cities of Tirupati and Rajahmundry.

“It is indeed a proud moment for all of us who have been working relentlessly to bring our dream of regional flying to reality, these flights will open up a whole new market, improving the choices of air travel to millions of our fellow citizens,” Aditya Ghosh, President at IndiGo, said in a press release. Teh airline has already started hiring flight operating crew for the ATR fleet.

The fifty ATR72 aircraft for IndiGo will be equipped with two Pratt & Whitney PW127M turboprops. With issues on the Pratt & Whitney engines used on the airline’s A320neos, which Layoverhub covered here, Pratt & Whitney said it has signed a 10-year contract with IndiGo under which it will provide maintenance services directly to the airline for its new ATR fleet. “IndiGo is a key operator for P&WC in India and the Asia Pacific market in general. This FMP agreement allows us to take a larger profile in India’s growing aviation industry. We are committed to making the debut of our PW127M engine with IndiGo’s fleet, giving them outstanding maintenance solutions,” Frederic Lefebvre, Vice President at Pratt & Whitney said.

6E is the third Indian airline to operate a fleet of ATR’s, along Air India Regional/Alliance Air (27 aircraft) and Jet Airways (13 aircraft). On the international front, the LCC is expanding its Middle Eastern network, start flights to Doha and planning to start flights to Kuwait City soon. IndiGo currently has seven international destinations, including Bangkok, Doha, Dubai, Kathmandu, Muscat, Sharjah and Singapore.

Featured image by Jujug Spotting.

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