IndiGo delays second frequency to Istanbul; starts technical stop at Ahmedabad for inbound flight

IndiGo – India’s largest domestic carrier by market share is facing roadblocks in its first major international expansion. The airline entered into a codeshare agreement with Turkish Airlines for 20 points beyond Istanbul and unlimited points in India.

The airline which had announced two flights in quick succession, has kept the second flight on hold and the flight is now available for booking from 1st July 2019.

Background

The launch was planned for 20th March 2019 and just ahead of the launch, the airline opened reservations for its second daily from New Delhi which was to be effective 25th March 2019. With two frequencies, the bilateral quota between the two countries would have been exhausted from both sides, since Turkish already flies 14x weekly flights – with 7 each to New Delhi and Mumbai.

Between the announcement of the flights and the launch date, Geo political tensions in the subcontinent led to closure of Pakistani airspace.

Actual Operations & Changes

With the closure affecting the route the aircraft can take, IndiGo introduced a technical stop at Doha just ahead of the day of first flight. Since then the airline has been operating its sole A321neo VT-IUA and A320neo aircraft in its fleet to Istanbul via Doha. All along the airline had its second flight scheduled on A320neo.

While the flight was one-stop (via Doha) outbound, it operated non-stop to Delhi from Istanbul. However, this is set to change from first week of May. The airline is introducing a technical stop at Ahmedabad, making it a one-stop operation both ways. The outbound stop will continue to be Doha, with the aircraft operating as Delhi – Doha – Istanbul – Ahmedabad – Delhi.

The timings would now be as below

6E11 DEL1025 – 1250DOH1350 – 1820IST

6E12 IST2040 – 0540AMD0610 – 0745DEL

As of now, the Ahmedabad technical stop is valid till the end of May, but could be extended depending on winds, loads and a lot more.

Airlineroute has reported that on 5th of May, the inbound flight will make a stop at Doha instead of Ahmedabad.

Tail note

The airline has been facing challenges from the very start of its Istanbul operations, first on the geopolitical reasons, followed by its A320neo landing in Kuwait due to engine issues. It is unclear – how long the Pakistani airspace closure will continue. Passengers may not like a one-stop operation for long , which makes the codeshare operation a two stop affair and cannot compete effectively with other options on the route including the Middle Eastern carriers and European carriers who offer one-stop service to Istanbul as well as all the destinations so far announced under the IndiGo – Turkish codeshare.

Interestingly, the airline will take delivery of its second A321neo in next couple of days. Aircraft availability may not be the sole reason for the delay of second flight. It looks like a carefully weighed decision of Istanbul operations versus utilizing additional capacity somewhere else, especially when the flights are one-stop and make them lesser attractive.

Will the airline shift the second frequency to Mumbai? With slots now available, this could be a possibility in the long run.

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