Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo has announced launch of its flights to Istanbul effective 20th March 2019. The domestic market leader in India announced a new CEO yesterday and announced its intentions to start rapid International expansion a day before in its call with analysts post results declaration.
The airline had announced a code share agreement with Turkish Airlines on 21st December 2018. India – Turkey bilateral agreement is constrained by frequency and Turkish side is utilizing its 14 weekly frequencies with Daily flights to Mumbai and Delhi. IndiGo will be the first and only airline from India to offer the flights to Turkey. The second connection is largely expected from Mumbai, but with limited slots on offer, time will tell if IndiGo has been able to negotiate for slots at Mumbai. Istanbul will be the airline’s 16th International destination.
The airline will operate the below schedule effective 31st March, the first day of IATA Summer schedule
6E11 DEL1400 – 1815IST
6E12 IST2035 – 0505DEL
Flights will be operated Daily, and the airline will deploy the Airbus A321neo on this sector, with 222 seats. The airline inducted its first A321neo on 29th December 2018. As per DGCA records, the traffic between India and Turkey has remained flat over the last four quarters, with an average of 33000 passengers between Delhi and Istanbul per quarter, and 31000 between Istanbul and Delhi. The numbers are around 30000 each way between Mumbai and Istanbul per quarter.
IndiGo timings are perfect to connect to destinations in India with morning flights from major Indian cities reaching Delhi at times sufficient to make a transfer to Terminal 3 from where the international services operate at Delhi. However, the lack of efficient and quick transportation between the terminals will be a bottle neck for IndiGo. Turkish Airlines has multiple banks to European destinations and the code share will go live soon. The timings from Istanbul to Delhi for IndiGo nearly coincide with the flights operated by Turkish Airlines.
The code share when active will have its own challenges with Business Class passengers missing out on the amenities and experience between Delhi and Istanbul for flights operated by IndiGo. However, such codeshares are not uncommon and the low cost carriers offering such services generally offer complementary meals to passengers connecting from full service carriers.
Delhi Airport has recorded tremendous growth in the last few years and closed just shy of 70 million passengers in 2018. The airport which has become a major airport in the region is also constrained for slots and bays, but slot guidelines allow priority and preference to airlines to start newer destinations or underserved destinations. Delhi sees heavy movement of international flights in the afternoon hours with the entire bank of flights to Europe by Air India departing between 1300 hours to 1430 hours. This also is the time for the carriers from UK to fly out of Delhi.
Istanbul Ataturk airport is one of the three airports at Istanbul but caters to the maximum traffic. The new Istanbul Airport will be operational soon, which is bigger than Istanbul Ataturk. With three runways, the airport carries as many passengers at Delhi and is neck to neck for the last few years.