IndiGo’s wet lease 777 to Istanbul: Business Class to be sold by Turkish Airlines; Hot meals to be sold

It has been a long time coming and is finally in reach. IndiGo started work on a project to induct wet-lease aircraft from their partner, Turkish Airlines, into the fleet. IndiGo currently operates the Airbus A321neo on their Delhi/Mumbai to Istanbul flights, which operate at the edge of the operating range for these aircraft. Hence, IndiGo has to make a fuel stop in Ras Al Khaimah flying out from Delhi to Istanbul, adding about three hours to the time required for the flight.

Not just that, IndiGo needs to start thinking and planning differently from its usual operating model to be able to deploy the next set of aircraft on order. They are adding aircraft at a fast clip, opening new routes in India that have not been operated before, or adding capacity as markets mature. However, with the Airbus A321XLR aircraft on order, the next set of routes which can be operated would also include destinations as far as Europe and perhaps Korea and Japan on the other end.

IndiGo’s 777 operations

IndiGo’s deal is to wet-lease up to three Boeing 777 aircraft to deploy on international routes. A wet lease means that the airline supplying the aircraft, in this case, Turkish Airlines, will also operate the plane with its own crew and be responsible for its maintenance. IndiGo will handle ground operations in India, sell tickets on its stock, and mark the flight on its code. While earlier, a wet lease was allowed under Indian rules for six months, IndiGo has become the first beneficiary of an update to the rule and will be able to have this wet lease for a year.

IndiGo still needs to publicly comment about the service it will offer on these aircraft. Still, it is known that the aircraft inducted by IndiGo are configured with 28 business class seats and 372 economy class seats. So, for the first time, IndiGo will operate a dual-class aircraft.

Also, a very interesting thing happening around here is that IndiGo is only selling the economy section of the cabin on its own website and through other channels.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

a screenshot of a phone

However, if you head to the Turkish Airlines website for the same flight, you will also be able to buy business-class seats.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

This means that IndiGo, at the moment, is just experimenting with a few things and not taking a lot on its plate. Their prime challenge is to see if they can market and fill up bigger aircraft compared to their 230 seats on international routes and what pricing and cooperation models might work there (codeshares, interlining, whatnot). It might also hint that they don’t want to look at a “more comfortable” section on their XLR operations.

IndiGo to serve hot meals on board

Further, the 777 operations might be a playground to check what meal offerings work on long-haul flights for IndiGo. For the first time, you should be able to see a hot meal service on IndiGo’s planes. But true to their roots, this is not available for free (except on certain fares). Here is what IndiGo intends to offer as breakfast on their India – Istanbul operations. You can pay INR 650 if they are not included in your fare.

a collage of food on a white surface a plate of food on a marble surface

And here are the dinner options.

a plate of food with beans and rice a screenshot of a food

Will there be IFE?

The specific aircraft leased by IndiGo was initially inducted by Kenya Airways in 2013. These aircraft feature USB ports, power sockets and an all-new in-flight entertainment system throughout the cabin. Will the IFE be put on for IndiGo or not? It remains to be seen.


IndiGo is going for many things with its new 777 wet lease operations. The airline will, for the first time, have an aircraft with 150 seats more than their biggest operation yet to fill (the 232-seater A321neo vs the 372 seats in Economy on the Turkish 777).  In a curious arrangement, the marketing for the front of the aircraft (the business class section) will only be done by Turkish and not by IndiGo (at least so far, that is the case). Additionally, IndiGo, for the first time in its history and four years after launching its longest flight, will offer hot meals on a plane.

What do you make of the curious case of IndiGo’s 777 wet-lease? How do you think it will play out for customers eventually?

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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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