Less than 18 months after it commenced international operations, Indian low fare carrier appears to be withdrawing from three critical and what are considered lucrative routes. Mumbai Singapore, Delhi Singapore, and Mumbai Bangkok.
A search for seat availability on the airline’s booking engine shows no flights available on these three routes from March 1, 2013 onwards. This is normally routine ahead of an airline withdrawing from a certain route.
We have seen this in the past when Jet Airways withdrew from Chennai Brussels, and, from Brussels New York JFK.
IndiGo has not responded to the queries sent by Bangalore Aviation.
While exact reasons for the withdrawal are not known, we can speculate that IndiGo would have failed to attract enough passengers resident in these markets, and at the same time faced significant price competition from the flag carriers of these nations, who offer a vastly superior full service product at prices very close to that of IndiGo.
Interestingly, the Singapore routes are the longest, flown by IndiGo, at present. Each route is about 5h15m ~ 5h30m in length, and a narrow body service for such a long distance is at a disadvantage compared to the luxurious wide body Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s flow by Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. In an exclusive interview with Bangalore Aviation, Singapore Airlines country head, G.M. Toh had highlighted the emphasis placed on the New Delhi and Mumbai markets by the airline.
. . . . . Mumbai and New Delhi are like Shanghai and Beijing in China. One is the commercial capital, one is the national capital, and in recognition of the commercial importance of these markets, we limit operations of the 777-300ERs to these cities, both in India and China. . . .
. . . . . very few routes can remuneratively sustain First class, on a regular basis. You will observe we offer a First class only to Mumbai and Delhi in India, Shanghai and Beijing in China, Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, Auckland in New Zealand, and Tokyo in Japan . . .
Withdrawal from these sectors will also place pressure on IndiGo in terms of fleet capacity. The airline operates an all Airbus A320 narrow-body jet fleet, and the number of airports in India which support jet aircraft operations are limited to about 35% of the total airports in the country. It remains to be seen what the airline will do with the surplus aircraft returned from the suspended routes.