• IndiGo opts for bigger single-aisle planes for overseas expansion

    IndiGo is for the first time opting for bigger aircraft in the single-aisle segment, as it steps up overseas expansion plans.

    India’s biggest airline by market share has tweaked part of its aircraft order, converting 20 Airbus A320Neo planes to A321Neos, said two people in the know.

    In IndiGo’s single-class configuration, the A321 will have a sitting capacity of over 230, compared to the A320’s 180.

    The airline has a total of 422 planes on order. After the tweak, 402 of them will be A320s and the rest A321s. The A321s will start coming in from 2019, said one of the executives. He added the conversion was a clause in the initial plane purchase contract between IndiGo and Airbus. There’s also a possibility that IndiGo may opt for the A321LR (Long Range) planes, touted as the longest range single aisle jetliner in the world.

    The shift to bigger planes highlights IndiGo’s bigger plans for overseas operations. The airline currently flies to five neighbouring overseas destinations: Kathmandu, Dubai, Singapore, Muscat and Bangkok.

    India is ahead of the world in terms of domestic air travel demand growth, say figures from the International Air Transport Association. But experts have said that at the breakneck speed in which capacity is slated to be added by airlines in the next few years,supply will outstrip demand.

    Also, with the government relaxing rules to fly international—domestic airlines now need 20 planes in their fleet, compared to the earlier requirement of 20 planes and 5 years of local operations—airline such as Go Air and Vistara have been drawing ambitious plans to fly international. The Indian government has also opened up talks for enhanching bilateral air traffic rights—airlines of two countries deploy equal number of seats/flights in the air route—which means foreign carriers too will increase capacity to India. Under all such cases, IndiGo needs to step on its international expansion plans.

    This A321 has a stretched fuselage with an overall length of 44.51 metres, along with an extended operating range of up to 3,000 nautical miles (5,556 kilometers) while carrying a maximum passenger payload, according to the Airbus website. The A321LR will be able to do 4,000 nautical miles (7,408 kilometers). D.J. Swearinger Authentic Jersey

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