Indigo's Growing Airbus A320Neo Fleet

InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, the operator of India’s largest airline, Indigo, has placed an order for 300 Airbus A320neo family aircraft which are said to be worth more than $30 billion at list prices.

This order includes an undisclosed number of A321XLR planes which can go up to 4,700 nm (8,704.4 km). This is also said to be one of the largest aircraft orders for Airbus from a single airline operator, and takes IndiGo’s total number of narrow-body A320neo family aircraft orders to 730.

An Indigo Airbus A320Neo landing at Mumbai. Photo by AeroNewsX/Karam Sodhi.

Airbus said in its press release that this order is for a mix of A320neo, A321neo and A321XLR (Extra Long Range) aircraft. The long-range, fuel-efficiency of the A321XLR will boost IndiGo’s plans to expand its international network and will increase IndiGo’s ability to launch flights to London. However, the A321XLR which has the longest range of any single-aisle aircraft, will be delivered to customers from 2023 onwards.

“The A321XLR is the next evolutionary step from the A321LR, the aircraft will deliver an unprecedented extra-long range of up to 4,700nm, with 30% lower fuel burn per seat compared with previous generation competitor jets," Indigo says.

This firm order is set to help Indigo replace its older fleet of A320ceos by 2022. As of 02 November 2019, the airline has 245 aircraft in its fleet consisting of 89 A320neo planes, 129 A320ceo planes, six A321neo planes and 21 ATR aircraft.

Indigo has a large fleet of Airbus A320Ceos. Photo by AeroNewsX/Karam Sodhi.

However the Airbus A320Neos haven't been very good for Indigo in terms of their performance. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered Indigo to replace P&W engines on 97 of its aircraft. Back-to-back incidents were reported on IndiGo’s Airbus 320Neos, operated by Pratt & Whitney engines. As a result the airline has until the end of January to replace some of the older P&W Engines onboard its fleet.

“This situation cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely. Therefore, after considerable deliberations, it has been decided that all aircraft in your fleet numbering 97 as on date, need to be placed with modified Low pressure Turbine (LPT) for both the Engines,” said DGCA DG Arun Kumar.

He added: “It has been further decided that the operator must ensure that all these aircraft are provided with modified LPT by 31/1/2020 at all costs. In case, it is not done, such aircraft shall not be allowed to fly with unmodified engines. You may like to stagger or defer your future induction plan and procure sufficient number of modified Engines to keep the existing fleet in operation.”

This order for IndiGo was a follow-up of the earlier DGCA order, which had asked both IndiGo and GoAir – both of which operate Airbus 320Neos with P&W engines – to replace the engines fitted on 16 and 13 of their aircraft respectively, by November 12, 2019.

In other news, Indigo has joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a move which will help the airline develop strong partnerships in international markets, the airline said in a statement. IATA, which is a global trade association for the airline industry, representing over 290 airlines, includes Indian airlines like Air India and SpiceJet. Indigo was an IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) registered airline and an IATA Clearing House member.

IndiGo's Chief Executive, Ronojoy Dutta said: "This partnership (with IATA) will not only help us share best practices, but also be a facilitator in our dream of building the best air transportation system in the world."

Indigo's announcement to join IATA comes a day after the airline placed a firm order for 300 Airbus A320neo family aircraft.

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