IndiGo, India’s largest airline by fleet and domestic market share, is back in the black and how. The airline delivered another profitable quarter, making it four profitable quarters. But the situation may be somewhat rocky.
IndiGo clocks impressive INR 190 Crores (USD 22.8 Million) profit for the usually weak July-September quarter
For the quarter ending September 2023, seasonally the weakest quarter, IndiGo reported a profit of INR 806.1 Crores (USD ~97 Million), excluding foreign exchange loss. But once you include the loss, the net profit for the quarter aggregated to INR 188.9 Crores (USD 22.7 Million).
There were other things to note in the results as well. For the quarter ended September 30, 2023, compared to the same period last year:
- Capacity increased by 27.7%
- Passengers increased by 33.4% to 26.3 million
- IndiGo had an on-time performance of 86.5% at four key metros and a flight cancellation rate of 0.64%
- The airline started operations in four new domestic destinations: Khajuraho, Jaisalmer, Salem, and Diu. Will also be starting operations in Jharsuguda, Gondia and Ayodhya.
- On the international front, IndiGo launched flights to six new destinations: Almaty, Tashkent, Nairobi, Jakarta, Tbilisi and
Baku. IndiGo also resumed operations to Hong Kong recently. Further, IndiGo will be heading into Bali and Medina in the coming months.
IndiGo will convert its one-way codeshare with Qantas to a two-way codeshare, enabling customers of IndiGo to book tickets to several destinations in Australia through Singapore.
IndiGo expects headwinds in terms of capacity in the coming days.
What makes aviation an exciting business is that every day is different. After COVID-19 saw grounding and restricted flows of customers, traffic came back with a bang last year. However, 2023 saw the grounding of Go First and SpiceJet almost going down to the bone. IndiGo also had its own set of troubles, Pratt & Whitney Engines. An issue with the newer generation Pratt & Whitney GTF engines, which IndiGo uses on many of their A320neo and A321neo aircraft, has caused the airline to ground them. At the moment, India’s largest airline, with 334 aircraft as of September 30, 2023, has about 40 aircraft grounded because of the non-availability of engines.
But problems are only going to be aggravated hereon. On today’s investor conference call, IndiGo discussed the powder metal issues, which first came to light at the end of July 2023. RTX Corp, which owns Pratt & Whitney, had first disclosed in July 2023 about a “rare condition” of the powdered metal used in their engines, which meant that 1200 of the more than 3000 engines built between 2015 and 2021 for use on the A320neo/A321neo must be brought back to the shop and inspected for microcracks. Most of the engines would need inspection in 2024 and onwards.
IndiGo is still awaiting the service bulletin, which will codify the problem and become the north star to decode which engines must go to the shop. The said advisory is expected to be issued in November. Still, for IndiGo’s own business, it expects that there will be a large number of groundings in 2024. The airline expects these engine examinations to take between 250-300 days, which means you can count on progressive grounding for a whole lot of aircraft for a year while they await engines. IndiGo has 136 A320neo aircraft powered by the PW GTF engines.
IndiGo has compensated for this in various methods, referred to as a Mitigation Plan on an Investor Conference Call today.
- Retained 14 CEOs in our fleet
- Extended and re-inducted 36 aircraft
- Executed damp leases of 2 widebodies flying on our Istanbul route and damp leases of 11 additional aircraft, which will be starting operations this month.
- Additionally, IndiGo is executing leases for 12 additional CEOs from the secondary market, with deliveries expected from January 2024 onwards.
Besides this, IndiGo is looking for additional capacity from the secondary market and is confident of delivering on its growth guidance of “north of mid-teens.” In the current quarter, IndiGo expects to add 25 per cent capacity year-over-year.
IndiGo has delivered four profitable quarters, but now it might be looking at a fifth one. However, next year might be a different story, with groundings that might come up for the airline because their engines need inspections. Already, 40-50 aircraft of IndiGo are grounded at the moment due to lack of engines, and this number could go higher as more engines need to go into inspection for a different problem with the Pratt & Whitney GTF engines.
What do you make of the whole set of issues, and do you think IndiGo will come out unscathed?
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