IndiGo operator seeks nod to fly to key European cities from October

Interglobe Aviation, the operator of IndiGo has sought the aviation ministry’s permission to fly to key European cities starting October, in a move that could be seen as an alternative to the airline’s plan to acquire state-owned Air India for global expansion.

In a letter dated January 25, the airline has asked for approval to start flights to Frankfurt, Paris and Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham in the UK starting October 2018 and to Brussels, Rome, Milan and Zurich in 2019.

IndiGo, India’s largest airline by passengers carried, said it is open to inducting aircraft such as Boeing’s 777 and 787 for its expanded international operations. The airline currently operates a fleet of Airbus 320s (short-haul aircraft) and ATRs (regional aircraft). On long-haul routes, IndiGo said in the letter it can choose from widebody aircraft such as Boeing 777 and 787 and Airbus 330 and 350.

Air India’s fleet has both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. IndiGo was the first airline to express interest in buying Air India, primarily its international operations. Apart from IndiGo, a foreign carrier has shown interest in the national carrier, which the government aims to sell by December.

IndiGo’s proposed international expansion includes strengthening connectivity to overseas destinations that are closer home such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, China, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore and the Middle East. For some of these short-haul international destinations, it will utilise its existing fleet, IndiGo informed the ministry.

The airline has not sought flying rights for Dubai, saying it would wait for the government to decide on any increase in bilateral rights and a solution on preferential allocation of slots for Indian carriers at the airport there.

IndiGo also shared its plan to induct Airbus 321s, which will be deployed on flights to Bahrain from New Delhi and Mumbai and to connect Chennai and Ahmedabad with Kuwait during the summer schedule, which begins in March and ends in October.

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