India’s largest airline IndiGo has ushered in widebody operations with the launching of Boeing 777 flights to Istanbul. The low-cost airline commenced the operation of its first wet-leased Turkish B777 aircraft on the Delhi-Istanbul route this morning. Flight 6E11 departed Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) at 07:24, marking the beginning of a new widebody era for IndiGo on February 1,
First commercial 777 flight to Istanbul, Turkey
The leading Indian carrier, IndiGo, operated its first commercial 777 flight from Delhi to Istanbul on February 1, 2023. This is a new feat for an airline whose mainline fleet comprises narrowbody, all-economy Airbus A320 family aircraft. IndiGo wet-leased Boeing 777 aircraft to maintain international operations from its codeshare partner, Turkish Airlines.
Amid the shortage of active jets, IndiGo is inducting its widebody aircraft to operate on high-capacity international routes. Delhi-Istanbul-Delhi is one of the most popular IndiGo routes with strong passenger demand. The inception of the commercial 777 services boosts IndiGo’s capacity to not only Istanbul but also Europe via Turkish codeshare flights.
IndiGo’s first business-class product
The wet-leased Boeing 777 features IndiGo’s business-class product for the first time on the Istanbul route. The dual-aisle accommodates a total of 400 passengers in two classes-economy and business. With business class seats available, IndiGo customers can now travel in comfort and luxury to/from India.
Besides, IndiGo will offer the choice of pre-booking Jain meals, Veg, or Non-veg hot meals for a hassle-free customer experience. Furthermore, it will also avail the option for buying blankets and pillows on long-haul travel and amenity kits to add a delightful touch to the flight experience.
Inducting Boeing 777 for up to a year
The Gurgaon-headquartered IndiGo can induct the bigger 777 aircraft on a wet lease for six months, extendable by another six months. It means IndiGo passengers can look forward to flying abroad B777 for up to a year. Previously, the low-cost giant had approached the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation to permit a two-year lease. The government partially granted the request in November 2022 since the initial rule allowed the wet-leasing of widebody planes for only up to 6 months.
Under the wet lease arrangement, the lessor provides operating crew and engineers and manages the maintenance and insurance of the aircraft for the lease period.
Widebody international operations
The debut of the 777 flight beholds a significant milestone for IndiGo in its 16-year operational history. So far, the carrier has been operating a strong fleet of Airbus A320 planes with an average age of 3.57 years. The tight ship with a young fleet of similar aircraft has given IndiGo an edge over other carriers in the Indian skies. But, IndiGo’s narrowbody A320 aircraft isn’t ideal for long-haul international routes.
So, the induction of widebody aircraft will allow IndiGo to offer a more comfortable passenger experience on long-haul flights. Customers flying to Istanbul on B777 will enjoy an elevated flight experience due to spacious widebody seats.
The fastest-growing Indian airline took on a wet lease of certain aircraft to cover the capacity crunch for scheduled international operations. The decision to lease the widebody aircraft came when IndiGo faced a shortage of active aircraft due to supply-chain issues. The carrier required larger jets to maintain its international presence and retain primary slots for certain destinations.
What next after B777?
IndiGo will use B777s to cater to its increasing international air travel demand throughout 2023. But for the long-term future, it will induct Airbus A321XLR planes. The longest-range single-aisle narrowbody A321 aircraft can fly as far as Western Europe and the Far East and stay in the air for up to 11 hours.
IndiGo has made the largest order of A321XLR type at 69 units, with deliveries slated to begin in 2024. The extra-long range A321XLR revolutionizes long-haul travel by flying routes of up to 8700km with a full payload. The aircraft supports IndiGo’s low-cost model with 30% fuel savings and opens new long-haul markets all around the globe.
IndiGo will rely on A321XLRs to expand beyond short to mid-range international destinations, connecting primary and secondary cities worldwide. Domestically, it’ll continue using its young, modern, and efficient A320 aircraft to dominate the Indian airspace.
In January 2023, IndiGo received the Ch-aviation accolade as the ‘World’s Youngest Aircraft Fleet 2023’. IndiGo boasts a fleet of latest-generation aircraft with an average age of 3.57 years.