IndiGo receives slots to start London operations in March 2019

IndiGo has long been touted to add flights to London. Earlier there was news that it would happen in 2018, which we decoded, was a no go. But since the first A321neo delivery was delayed for the airline, the date was pushed back (or it could be the other way around too). VT-IUA, the first A321neo joined IndiGo’s fleet towards the end of December 2018. IndiGo has another 149 A321neo on order.

IndiGo london flight

VT-IUA Source: IndiGo

IndiGo to London Gatwick!! How? When?

We have all heard rumours that IndiGo will launch flights to London Gatwick with a fuel stop, on the A321neo. The stop was touted to be Istanbul but later on, Baku was rumoured to be the one. IndiGo signed their first codeshare agreement with Turkish Airlines in the fag end of 2018. That revealed IndiGo’s plan to launch flights to Istanbul. But none of the information said anything about terminating the flights at Istanbul or continuing to London.

Now, in a new court filing that has come to light thanks to the ongoing tussle between Delta/Virgin Atlantic/KLM/Air France and JetBlue, there is new information that shows  IndiGo has confirmed slots at London Gatwick, to operate via Baku. We don’t know yet whether Baku will be a technical stop or IndiGo will have fifth freedom rights. IndiGo will operate a 222-seater A321neo on that route.

IndiGo london flight

Delhi-Baku-London Gatwick flight map

IndiGo’s slots will be active from March 31, 2019, and indicate an evening arrival and departure from London Gatwick.

IndiGo London flight

Slot filing for Delhi to London Gatwick via Baku

IndiGo London flight

Slot filing for London Gatwick to Delhi via Baku

IndiGo has assigned flight numbers 1 and 2, their flagship numbers, to the London Gatwick service. It seems IndiGo will have to keep their famed ramps ready, given they will have to turn around the aircraft in one-hour flat. That means, open doors, open cargo doors, unload passengers and luggage and load up fresh one, and get out of the gate. With some practice, IndiGo should be able to do it.

Looking at the arrival time at LGW, I guess the flight will have an afternoon departure from Delhi. Air India (AI 111), Jet Airways ( 9w 122) and Virgin Atlantic (VS 301) depart from Delhi in the afternoon and arrive at London Heathrow between 17:40 and 18:55. Corresponding return flights arrive at Delhi in the morning between 10:25 to 11:20.

So IndiGo will have an afternoon departure from Delhi and a morning arrival at Delhi airport. Pretty convenient timings but there are up against three widebody frequencies to London during the same time.

IndiGo London flight

Inside VT-IUA (A321neo) Source: IndiGo

The other thing we also know is that IndiGo will operate out of Terminal 1l that is the South terminal at Gatwick. British Airways and even Turkish Airlines operate out of South Terminal at London Gatwick Airport.

Bottomline

We still have to wait for a formal announcement from IndiGo, but the project seems a go, given the management has also talked to SCMP about it. Are cheaper fares to London coming this summer? Travelling in a narrowbody aircraft, with slimly seats and space-flex lavatories isn’t everyone’s thing. There are a few downsides to narrowbody operations. Lufthansa is operating an A319 on Frankfurt-Pune route also via Baku. But they are going to stop that from February 2019.

Are you pumped up for IndiGo’s foray into London? If yes, why so?

Comments

  1. You forgot to add the time for the technical stop in your calculation for arrival and departure times out of Delhi. The stop would add 1.5 hours at the minimum to the overall flight times. Would passengers be required to go through security screening again on a technical stop? Do the A321neos have the range to do DEL – LGW non-stop?

  2. Doubtful if this route turns out to be profitable for Indigo with presence of British Airways, Air India, Virgin Atlantic and Jet Airways all operating non-stop and using wide body aircrafts to London Heathrow.
    Moreover, presence of Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways means even more competition for Indigo since all of them have have an edge over IndiGo in terms of seat comfort and amenities offered.
    And absence of a business class will work out in their favour since business class is a major source of revenue on long-haul flights

  3. I have a feeling that Baku will be a technical stop only. If they realise later that there is demand, then maybe they might consider fifth freedom flights.

    Another thing is, given that they’re competing against three FSCs operating a nonstop flight with what I assume would be more comfortable seats, I wonder how IndiGo can make it work. Granted that Indians are price conscious but would it be to the level that IndiGo could flourish on this route and the FSC’s have problems?

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