IndiGo keen to operate more flights, say officials

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on July 16, 2020

Cargo movement helped the airline earn cash during lockdown

Delhi-based low cost airline IndiGo is currently operating over 400 daily departures which is double the 200 daily departures that it operated when domestic flying restarted on May 25, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, President and Chief Operating Officer, IndiGo, told BusinessLine late on Wednesday evening.

“We are keen to operate more flights. Currently our daily departures are around 400 but this is a fluctuating number depending on what kind of lockdown or restrictions are being imposed at airports,” he said.

Asked whether the airline has been able to achieve the 45 per cent limit that the government set recently after the lockdown on flights was lifted, Prock-Schauer said the whole system needed to be aligned for achieving this. “Certain restrictions need to go away like currently there are restrictions in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports so you cannot reach this 45 per cent total. There are a lot of other restrictions which do not enable us to reach that figure,” he said.

Officials indicated that as a result of the lockdown and airport restrictions, IndiGo was unable to even reach 25 per cent flying which the government allowed when flying restarted on May 25.

However, both Prock-Schauer and IndiGo’s Chief Commercial Officer Willy Boulter, insist that passenger demand is there and they see it stabilising over a period of time.

“On the services that we have put, we have seen demand and this demand has not fallen after a few days, which some people expected. We have seen stabilised loads and demand,” Boulter pointed out.

Prock-Schauer added that unlike in Europe, in India a two-hour flight could become a few days travel by train with all the exposure. “We see a unique advantage for air travel going forward,” he added.

Both officials declined to comment on exact passenger numbers calling it “commercially sensitive information.”

Cargo movement

The movement of cargo during the lockdown came as a boon for IndiGo. Boulter said 10 aircraft including four Airbus 320 and four A 321 and two ATR aircraft are carrying cargo in the cabin (like many others the airline placed cargo on passenger seats and put safety nets around the seats to fly the cargo, after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation permitted such operations). He, however, declined to explain how this had helped financially.

“As we have said before, it was of very great assistance during the lockdown when virtually the only cash we were earning was from operating cargo aircraft or cargo in cabin aircraft. We continue to do that,” Boulter said.

In response to a question on whether IndiGo is looking at converting more aircraft into cargo in cabin aircraft, Boulter said that this would depend on demand going forward. “We are prepared to look at other aircraft but the important thing is that these aircraft can be reconfigured into passenger aircraft. We are not taking the seats off, the seats are there it is just that we are putting nets on board,” he said.

Meanwhile, to assure flyers that it is safe to fly, the airline has launched a two-minute video ‘lean, mean flying machine’ which re-emphasises all the safety measures that IndiGo is taking to ensure a safe flight for its passengers.

Published on July 16, 2020

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