As per a report from CAPA India, International market will be the main focus for airlines like Air India and IndiGo in the upcoming year. In 2024, airlines will shift their gears from domestic to international expansion giving togh copetition to foreign carriers and Gulf airlines.
International Plans of IndiGo
IndiGo – the largest airline of India in terms of fleet and number of departures has already announced its intent to expand internationally. IndiGo Chief Executive Officer Pieter Elbers said that the airline is very well known in India but internationally, the brand is not much known.
Next phase for the airline will be the internationalisation of operations. In the recently concluded earnings conference, Elbers said that the airline will add 3 destinations to its network : Ayodhya, Medina and Bali. Ayodhya is a domestic destination unlike the other two. The airline launched flights to Ayodhya today on December 30.
IndiGo currently serves to 32 International destinations. It has codeshare agreements with several airlines like Turkish Airlines, Qantas, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. It recently expanded its codeshare agreement with Qantas to include flights to Australia via Singapore. Earlier, both airlines transferred passengers exclusively from Indian Airports.
Widebody Order of IndiGo
In June 2023, during Paris Air Show, there were huge rumours that IndiGo will be adding widebody aircraft in its fleet. Rumours said that the airline will buy 25 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets. Both Boeing and Airbus were in race for winning this order. Boeing with the Dreamliner and Airbus with the Airbus A330neo. However, the deal has not been placed yet as IndiGo has high hopes from the upcoming Airbus A321XLR. The airline wants to use this aircraft for long haul operations to destinations like Rome, Tokyo, Seoul, etc.
As per CAPA India, if IndiGo place a widebody order, it will ensure two things. One that IndiGo will also enter into long haul operations. This means a potential competition to Air India in the non-stop routes market. Second that Air India will not be the only airline to have widebody operations.
If IndiGo orders widebodies, this move will trigger Air India Express to induct widebody aircraft as well. A similar case happened recently, when FlyDubai ordered 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets at Dubai Air Show 2023. The airline operates an all Narrowbody fleet of Boeing 737 family only.
Air India in 2024
While IndiGo is all set to takeover the international front, Air India has to get ready to soar over both the domestic and international fronts. On the domestic side, the airline has been consistently adding more routes. It is receiving deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX jets on a rapid pace. For example, in this month itself, the airline received 5 Boeing 737 MAX jets. It is rapidly expanding its presence in the Tier-2 market.
Air India Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson said that as the airline receives more aircraft, it will expand on both fronts as it is doing right now. The airline on December 15th launched non-stop flights to Phuket. On the domestic front, it is constantly adding flights. On December 30, it operated the maiden flight between Ayodhya and Delhi. It will connect Ayodhya to Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata. Further, Bengaluru will be connected to Gwalior as well.
If we conclude, Air India is set to conquer both fronts – domestic one with Air India Express and International one with Air India.
What about Foreign Carriers?
See. India is a very important market, not just for Indian airlines, but also for foreign airlines. An airline can lease 2 widebodies to an Indian airline, so that it can source more passengers through its hub. That depicts the importance of Indian market for foreign airlines.
As per estimates of CAPA India, European airlines will launch more new services to India. Existing services will be upgraded both in terms of frequency and product. Airlines based in America are dependent on Russian airspace usage rights. They will also start regular services once permitted.
In second half of 2024, the Indian government is likely to ease the Bilateral policy because of aero-political and trade. In general, foreign airlines will request Indian governent to add 1,50,000 seats per week to Bilateral rights. Of course, Indian government will grant it in a phased manner. The way how the government opens up the bilateral agreement will be important to watch.
As both Indian and foreign carriers are looking to take a pie in Indian market, the gulf carriers like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways can be impacted. They may have to deploy their India capacity for European and North American traffic.
In rear cabins, the airfares are expected to be normalised but we cannot say anything about premium cabins.
Source : The Hindu Business Line