IndiGo sues Delhi Airport over Terminal 1

The battle of the expansion of Delhi Airport continues to no end. The Airport has been waiting for about a year for the no-frills carriers IndiGo, GoAir and SpiceJet to come to some sort of an arrangement so that they get back part of the airport to start on their ambitious expansion project.

After giving a long rope to the three carriers, they eventually had to order for the carriers to get their backside moving out of there. In order to appear and be impartial, the airport had a neutral solution that affected all the airlines equally badly. It told them to move a part of their flights out of Terminal 1 and move it to Terminal 2. In this scenario, everyone lost a bit.

GoAir being the smallest of the three agreed to fully move operations to Terminal 2. IndiGo and SpiceJet could have been taking over the whole of Terminal 2 but they had other ambitions. IndiGo said Terminal 2 was not going to fit their scale of operations out of Delhi, and hence they’d like the Terminal 2 be expanded before they could move there. SpiceJet said it’d only move to Terminal 2 if IndiGo moved too. Creating a classic deadlock scenario where someone had to lose for sure.

Delhi Airport Terminal 1 Checkin Queues

Delhi Airport Terminal 1 Checkin Queues

Now, GoAir got itself a win by cooperating with the airport authorities and has an exclusive terminal for the time being. In the meanwhile, SpiceJet and IndiGo have sought and received a final extension of sorts to move part of their operations by January 4, 2018, to the Terminal 2.

Delhi Airport Terminal 1 Crowd

Delhi Airport Terminal 1 Crowd

In all fairness, IndiGo has 300 daily flights out of Delhi Airport and 40,000 passengers (14.6 million annual) as per some reports. IndiGo tried to get wriggle room by suing the airport operator in court. As per them,

DIAL has failed to adhere to a fair, transparent and balanced approach in arriving at any decision to safeguard the interest of the public and airlines. The unilateral decision of DIAL to allow one airline (GoAir) while at the same time directing two other airlines (SpiceJet and IndiGo) to relocate in part and split operations by shifting flights to and from certain sectors is arbitrary, illegal and mala fide.

Good job chief! I mean you had the opportunity to move as well and you passed it along and now at the other end, you now want to blame the airport operator. Well played. In reality, DIAL does not hold any power over the airlines, otherwise, they’d have already moved their operations to Terminal 2 as ordered.

Delhi Terminal 1 Departure Gate Rush

Delhi Terminal 1 Departure Gate Rush

Having said that, I read the passive-aggressive tone of IndiGo where it is trying to get the whole of Terminal 1 to itself while having SpiceJet and GoAir move over to Terminal 2. That is a solution no one wants to give them. When IndiGo took DIAL to court, their petition said,

The restrictions sought to be imposed by DIAL could destroy IndiGo’s business, the reputation of which has been built up over the last 11 years as the most efficient and most liked airline in India. DIAL’s directions are completely arbitrary and do not have any nexus with the object sought to be achieved (that is), decongestion.

Having heard everyone yesterday, the Delhi High Court reserved its order and that is something we are waiting to hear more about. But as per the DIAL lawyer in court to IndiGo,

Don’t teach me how to operate my airport.

They said, that the safety of the passengers was the responsibility of the airport, and if something went wrong in an overcrowded airport, it would be the airport operator who’d be found at fault, not the airlines.


It is interesting to see how this deadlock plays out. Someone has to lose in this situation for everyone else to gain. IndiGo wants to have the whole of Terminal 1. SpiceJet does not want to let them have a branding edge with the whole of Terminal 1. GoAir has taken over Terminal 2 for now.

DIAL will take any permutation and combination which will allow them to reduce the capacity at T1 and move it to T2 in a harmonious manner, but a threat they will not take.

Till the resolution comes through, you should be ready to be pushed and shoved at the Delhi Airport Terminal 1 if you are flying SpiceJet or IndiGo.

What do you think will eventually happen in this case? Who will win and who will lose the battle of Terminal 1?

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. I think Spicejet should move. Indigo needs capacity given their aircraft order backlog. It’s a fair reason. It only makes sense for spicejet to move.

  2. I have been to T2 in Nov. It is too small even for GoAir alone. There was hardly any place left to sit (during 5-7pm) and lounge was probably the smallest i had seen (haven’t seen too many though). If Indigo and/or SpiceJet move there within current space, that will be nightmare for passengers.

  3. Why on earth would IndiGo not want to take T2? Passengers can reach there without taking shuttle through metro. The get off point for T2 is same as T3, unlike T1 where passengers have to get off at Aerocity and take a shuttle. They are forcing their own passengers to take an additional bus with luggage. Also, there is an upcoming tunnel which will make getting to T2 easier than T3, as no escalators.

    It’s all ego for IndiGo lately. Passengers have taken a beating (no pun intended). Grown too big for the shoes too quick.

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