Wheels up! VT-IUA the first A321neo for IndiGo has started its journey to India! The airline took delivery of its 200th aircraft on 5th of December 2018. IndiGo is the first airline in India to reach this milestone and comes at a time when it has been on a blitzkrieg. The airline recently converted 125 A320neo to the larger A321neo, in addition to the 25 A321neos it had already on order. Airbus allows flexibility in choosing the sub version of the A321neo and the airline with sufficient lead time could opt for the number of additional fuel tanks it would want on its A321neos to increase the range envelope. VT-IUA, the first of the A321s, made its first flight on 20th November and subsequent flights on 26th Nov, 18th Dec and 21st Dec.
The delay in induction of the A320neo gave a jolt to the systematic induction plan of IndiGo and the spiraling problems with the Pratt & Whitney engines have led to delivery slippage. IndiGo has been leasing older A320s from open market to fill up the gap and keep expanding. Last November, the airline inducted its first ATR72-600 aircraft. The 74 seater aircraft was inducted simultaneously with the first of the 186 seater A320neo in its fleet. With the A321neo speculated to be 234 or 222 seater, the airline will have a fleet of 180 seater A320ceo, 180 seater A320neo, 186 seater A320neo and A321new which will be complemented by 74 seater ATR72-600.
The ATR induction has also been on the backburner due to lack of adequate pilots. The A321neos are expected to operate domestic flights for a while.
Over a period of time, the lower CASK (Cost per Available Seat Kilometer) of the A321neo will help the airline recover from the higher CASK of the ATRs and maintain the balance. The balanced CASK is just for the reporting purposes, profitability will be paramount.
Read: The NEOs are coming