IndiGo Orders 30 Airbus A350 Widebodies To Go Long Haul

By Spyros Georgilidakis | April 27, 2024

Low-cost carrier IndiGo announced a large order for Airbus A350 widebodies, as it presses ahead with plans to expand its long-haul operations.

There were rumors that such an order was in the works between Airbus and Indigo. But to some, it seemed too unlikely to be true – at least at this scale. Several existing low-cost airlines have tried to crack the nut of low-cost, long-haul, but few have done it, to any degree.

IndiGo placed the world’s biggest aircraft order last summer. Image: Airbus

Could IndiGo use an A350 fleet to succeed where others have stumbled? This isn’t a small airline. In last year’s Paris Airshow, the airline broke the record for the world’s largest single aircraft order: 500 jets, all of them of the A320neo family.

This meant that the airline, now with a fleet of 370 aircraft, has outstanding orders for over 1,000 deliveries of new jets from Airbus. And now, on the 25th of April, IndiGo announced a firm order for 30 Airbus A350 widebodies.

IndiGo Orders 30 Airbus A350 Widebodies To Go Long Haul
Photo: IndiGo

The IndiGo Airbus A350 Order

The jets will be A350-900s and the deal also includes another 70 A350s as options. IndiGo expects to start taking delivery of its A350 fleet in 2027. This will fulfill an ambition that the airline has reportedly had for some time.

Long-haul flights often rely on premium seating and other offerings, that typically aren’t part of the “arsenal” of many low-cost carriers (LCCs). Also, such airlines often rely on quick turnarounds between fleets. Long-haul flight schedules often don’t permit such turnarounds, making it hard for LCCs to maintain a high fleet utilization.

IndiGo Orders 30 Airbus A350 Widebodies To Go Long Haul
Image: Airbus via Rolls-Royce

However, the Indian low-cost carrier isn’t blindly walking into this kind of operation. Before this A350 order, Indigo started long-haul flights by using two leased Boeing 777s from Turkish Airlines. The airline can gain experience by operating such routes, making sure they are viable all year round.

But more importantly, this order could mean that the airline is looking to pivot away from its LCC role. If IndiGo exercises all options in its order, it will go from an all-narrowbody airline to the world’s second-largest A350 operator – after Turkish Airlines.

IndiGo Orders 30 Airbus A350 Widebodies To Go Long Haul
Photo: IndiGo

Sizing Up A Future Market

As we’ve seen, the world’s second-largest single aircraft order is also from India: 470 jets, for Air India. The country’s aviation industry is experiencing an incredible boom, with new airport investments and other growing aviation infrastructure.

Also, IndiGo and Air India (who also ordered an A350 fleet last year) could compete with the Gulf carriers, for flights between India and European destinations. IndiGo’s order suggests that their flights with leased 777s look promising, in this regard.

Photo: Laurent ERRERA, CC BY-SA 2.0

However, some analysts are worried that this expansion of Indian carriers, plus the addition of new players like Akasa Air, could be too fast. It could well be that this simultaneous growth could be bigger than the country’s potential.

Other Indian carriers have gone bust in previous years. But with factors like infrastructure growth and competition with Gulf airlines, India’s aviation industry could still take years to show its real potential.


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