India’s largest carrier by domestic market share – IndiGo, has opened booking for its second fleet type – the ATRs. The airline has been coming up with teaser advertisements on its social media handles for the last few days.
In preparation for the launch, the airline had made a small change to its booking display last week. It started showing the aircraft type (IndiGo calls it Flight type). It has two separate icons for flights operated by A320 and those operated by ATR. By winter schedule of 2018 or summer of 2019, a third icon for long haul could well make its way.
The airline has announced the signing of term sheet on 9th May 2017 for 50 ATR72-600 aircraft. (IndiGo signs term sheet for 50 ATR72-600) An ATR72-600 in IndiGo livery was showcased by ATR at Paris Air Show in June. News reports indicate that the regulator has approved 78 seats in the ATR72-600 but IndiGo will induct the 74 seater aircraft. Air India Regional (Alliance Air), Jet Airways and Trujet are the other operators of ATR72-600 in India.
The three aircraft will see commercial induction effective 21st December with routes between Hyderabad – Mangalore, Chennai – Mangalore and Hyderabad – Nagpur, all of which are existing operational stations of the airline. The airline will progressively open new stations – Tirupati and Rajahmundry. Tirupati will be the 40th domestic destination and Rajahmundry the 41st when they are operational effective 9th January 2018 and 16th January 2018 respectively. The airline flies to 7 international destinations and is likely to announce a few more. Ironically it is yet to start services to Dhaka, which was announced in March this year.
The first three rotations will see an average block time of 1hour 28 minutes and average stage length of 426 kms.
Of the 8 city pairs on which the airline has opened reservations with first three aircraft, five will be monopoly routes (Bengaluru – Tirupati, Hyderabad – Nagpur, Chennai – Mangalore, Chennai – Rajahmundry, Bengaluru – Rajahmundry), The airline with compete with Spicejet on Hyderbad – Tirupati, Hyderabad – Mangalore while the Hyderabad – Rajahmundry sector will see competition between IndiGo, Jet Airways and Spicejet.
The next few aircraft could also be based in Hyderabad with services to Madurai and opening up of new stations like Vijaywada before the airline starts expanding in central and eastern India.
The airline is yet to open connections to other cities for these regional flights and thus only point to point services are on offer. The airline expected to induct 7 aircraft by March’18 and end the calendar year 2018 with 20 aircraft. This induction and branding will definitely take the attention away from the slow induction rate of the A320neos – which have suffered grounding due to the issues with the Pratt & Whitney engines.