IndiGo takes the battle home to AirAsia – launches Kuala Lumpur

After battling AirAsia in India, low cost carrier and Indian domestic market leader IndiGo is taking the battle to AirAsia’s home – Kuala  Lumpur. The airline announced launch of flights from Delhi and Bengaluru effective 15th November 2018.

The flights would operate as below

6E 1821 DEL 0255 – 1040 KUL x2

6E 1814 KUL 1140 – 1320 BLR x2

6E 1813 BLR 1435 – 2110 KUL x2

6E 1822 KUL 2205 0055 DEL x2

6E 1821 DEL 0545 – 1330 KUL 2

6E 1814 KUL 1430 – 1610 BLR 2

6E 1813  BLR 1705 – 2340 KUL 2

6E 1823 KUL 0040 – 0330 DEL 3

Yesterday, when I tweeted this the discussion veered around its rivalry with AirAsia group.


AirAsia India started Indian operated in June 2014 and made a buzz of being profitable in the first year of operations along with starting International flights. The airline has not yet been profitable in any quarter and the fleet stands at 19 aircraft, one short of the mandatory 20 required to be eligible for International operations. Both the airlines have been locked in a bitter battle on multiple routes in India with IndiGo mirroring the AirAsia India network often. Consumers have never had it this good on the routes where AirAsia India operates since the fares have been slashed to keep the airline away from profits.

IndiGo will operate to KLIA2 at Kuala Lumpur. KLIA2 is the home of AirAsia Malaysia and a hub for all its group airlines. Over 90% of all flights from KLIA2 are operated by the AirAsia group. Cebu Pacific, JetStar Scoot and JC Cambodia International are the only other carriers. While the taxes are lower at KLIA2, not all low cost carriers operate to KLIA2 with Lion Air choosing to operate to KLIA where its Malaysian Subsidiary Malindo has a hub.

AirIndia Express was operating flights to Kuala Lumpur from Chennai and was the only carrier from India doing so. The airline pulled out of the market in February 2017. This is one market which sees near 100% utilization of seats from Malaysian side and nil from Indian side. Under the Air Services Agreement, Malaysian side has unlimited access to 18 points in India and restricted access to the six metro cities.

In April 2017, both the sides enhanced the Air Services Agreement which gave out some additional seats to the Malaysian side and saw increase in frequency / equipment upgrade / new routes by Malaysian Airlines, Malindo Air and AirAsia group.

From Kuala Lumpur, AirAsia operates to Bengaluru, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Tiruchirappalli and Vishakhapatnam. AirAsia X – the long haul arm of AirAsia operates to Delhi, Amritsar and Jaipur with none of them being daily flights. Malaysian Airlines operates to Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Malindo Air operates to Amritsar, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kochi, Kolkata (proposed), Mumbai, Trivandrum and Tiruchirappalli. In addition to this, Indonesian carrier Batik Air operates flights to Chennai which originate in Indonesia.

The Malaysia – India traffic is not as big as traffic to Singapore or Thailand from India and thus has been the stopover destination for traffic flowing to Australia and Indonesia along with holiday crowds to Indo-China region. Unless IndiGo is planning to feed traffic from Kuala Lumpur to Middle East for future European destinations, the airline will find it tough to sustain. IndiGo has smartly selected those routes where AirAsia is relatively week on the frequency front with bilaterals restricting the airline to 4x frequencies each. However, Delhi is serviced by Malindo Air and Malaysian Airlines with multiple frequencies and Bengaluru sees flights of Malaysian Airlines on a daily basis and Malindo on 2 days of the week.

Time will tell if IndiGo can add more flights to Kuala Lumpur from places like Chennai, Tiruchirappalli or Kochi or will it keep it restricted to the metro routes. The airline has already burnt its fingers once with flights to Singapore from Delhi and Mumbai being pulled out.  For Kuala Lumpur, the airline was back with its cheeky branding as always.


Unlike what many have predicted that this move is to counter AirAsia India, it looks unlikely to be that way since other airlines in India are not likely to consume the seats allotted and thus keep space for AirAsia India to add flights when the airline is eligible to fly abroad. The motive seems different and we should know about this by the time the year ends. Keep watching this space!

Read More: More thoughts on rivalry between IndiGo and Air Asia India

Let the battle begin. . IndiGo launches non-stop Bengaluru – Chandigarh service to counter Air Asia India


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