Indian low-cost carrier and domestic market leader IndiGo has opened reservations for second daily flight to Istanbul from New Delhi. The airline is scheduled to operate its first commercial service on this sector on 20th March and has quickly but quietly gone double daily on the sector with the second flight effective 25th March. The reservations for this sector was open for sale on 25th January.
The airline will operate one flight with the A321neo while the second flight will be operated by A320 and is likely to be the A320neo.
The two flights would operate as per below timings in Summer Schedule which is effective 31st March 2019
6E 15 DEL 1145 – 1545 IST
6E 11 DEL 1400 – 1815 IST
6E 16 IST 1950 – 0410 DEL
6E 12 IST 2035 – 0505 DEL
The airline had announced a code share with Turkish Airlines to 20 destinations beyond Istanbul. The longer ground time at Istanbul will be keenly watched.
India and Turkey have a restriction of 14 frequencies per week in the existing Air Services Agreement (ASA) and while the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2016 allows re-negotiation of the ASA after the Indian side has utilized 80% of the quota, it is unlikely that the negotiations with Turkey would happen anytime soon for more than one reason.
The timings of these two flights connect well to a lot of destinations in European Union but does not connect well to flights to North America.
Turkish Airlines is expected to shift to the New Istanbul Airport and that could also mean IndiGo shifting its flights to Istanbul to the New Istanbul Airport, whenever the move happens.
Recent geo-political tensions have led to airspace closure for transiting aircraft by Pakistan and it needs to be seen on how long this will continue. IndiGo intends to deploy a large percentage of its capacity on foreign routes and Delhi being its largest hub will be the preferred choice, specially to countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. A longer closure of the Pakistani airspace or closure of the airspace for Indian carriers will severely jeopardize the plan to operate these flights with narrow body aircraft.