India’s IndiGo Introducing Business Class

India’s IndiGo Introducing Business Class

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IndiGo, which is India’s largest airline in terms of number of passengers flown, has announced plans to introduce business class this year. However, as of now there are more questions than answers.

IndiGo plans business class product

Since commencing operations in 2006, IndiGo has operated as a low cost carrier, and hasn’t offered a premium cabin experience. That’s about to change. IndiGo plans to introduce a business class product before the end of 2024.

So far the airline hasn’t revealed all that many details, though is promising that more will be announced around August. IndiGo describes the decision to introduce business class as “a groundbreaking move to redefine business travel in India,” and says the product will be a “tailor-made product for India’s busiest and business routes.”

As this decision is described, IndiGo was founded with a focus on three customer promises — affordable fares, on-time performance, and hassle-free and courteous service. Now the airline feels that it’s time to take the next step in the evolution of the airline. This decision comes as IndiGo sees “India’s soaring economy and evolving aspirations of Indian society.”

Here’s how IndiGo CEO Pieter Elbers describes this development:

“As India’s most preferred airline, we are constantly looking at innovating our service offering for our millions of customers. Over the past 18 years, India’s and IndiGo’s growth story store have been closely interlinked. We believe as India gears up to become the third largest economy in the world, it’s our privilege to provide the New India even more options to choose from as they travel business. We are excited with this new phase and tailor-made product in IndiGo’s evolution and strategy and aim to further give wings to the nation, connecting people and aspirations.”

IndiGo will finally introduce business class

What can we expect from IndiGo business class?

First of all, I’m curious what kind of a business class product IndiGo will introduce. Presumably the airline will go in one of two directions:

  • IndiGo could introduce special business class seats, similar to what you’ll find on Air India and Vistara (roughly comparable to domestic first class within the United States)
  • IndiGo could introduce a more budget friendly business class, with the first several rows of the cabin having blocked middle seats (roughly comparable to business class within Europe)
Will IndiGo’s business class be like this…
…or like this?

Personally I feel like the second scenario is more likely than the first scenario, since IndiGo is still very much a budget conscious airline. Then again, the airline describes this as “tailor-made” and a move to “redefine business travel,” and I’d have a hard time describing economy seats with blocked middles that way.

Next, I’m not surprised to see IndiGo finally introduce business class, especially with the carrier’s growth aspirations. IndiGo has plans to fly long haul, and has ordered both Airbus A321XLRs and Airbus A350-900s, which will cause the airline to increasingly compete head-on with Air India.

I figured the airline wouldn’t be operating long haul flights in an all-economy configuration (the economics of that aren’t great). So if the airline is going to offer business class on long haul flights, it’s also important to have competitive connectivity opportunities.

Now, I am curious if IndiGo is falling into a bit of a trap here. IndiGo has been incredibly successful sticking to its core business of operating affordable, reliable, and no frills flights. As the airline goes upmarket, economics change a bit as well. Will the airline focusing on long haul flights and premium cabins ultimately improve profitability or harm it? I’m not sure, but it seems like a gamble…

Bottom line

IndiGo plans to introduce a business class product before the end of 2024, which is a major development for the airline, given that it has historically been a low cost carrier. This makes sense in the context of IndiGo planning long haul flights, since presumably those aren’t going to be in an all-economy layout. I’m looking forward to learning more details.

What do you make of IndiGo introducing business class, and what are you expecting?

Conversations (31)
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  1. Paul Guest

    Given how many international routes have restrictions on the total number of seats that can be sold, reducing the seat count by introducing a true short haul business class seems like a reasonable idea. Make the same money operating with a reduced seat count and use their surplus seat allowance to open up additional routes or frequencies. I do feel like it will be a hard sell on their shorter routes though unless they offer...

    Given how many international routes have restrictions on the total number of seats that can be sold, reducing the seat count by introducing a true short haul business class seems like a reasonable idea. Make the same money operating with a reduced seat count and use their surplus seat allowance to open up additional routes or frequencies. I do feel like it will be a hard sell on their shorter routes though unless they offer very small price differences from their standard low cost economy

  2. Eskimo Guest

    Didn't the late GoAir have the EU business class model and failed?

  3. Kar Guest

    I imagine this to be similar to the evolution of WestJet in Canada, who with their LCC roots now have premium cabin offerings across their domestic fleet with some markets operating in an all econ configuration.

  4. Aniljak Guest

    Would like to see a euro business style seating with free meals and drinks.
    Priced at maybe $100 USD more than economy

    1. Barbarella Guest

      In principle the real estate utilisation of Euro Business is 1.5x economy, then it requires separate catering and added complexity like dividers curtains etc.
      On that basis it can't be cheaper than 1.5-1.7x the average economy fare.

      Currently DEL-BLR in Y retails between 75 and 200 USD in economy depending on date of booking. The business class tickets retail at 413 USD so a 5x differential which is huge considering the product is...

      In principle the real estate utilisation of Euro Business is 1.5x economy, then it requires separate catering and added complexity like dividers curtains etc.
      On that basis it can't be cheaper than 1.5-1.7x the average economy fare.

      Currently DEL-BLR in Y retails between 75 and 200 USD in economy depending on date of booking. The business class tickets retail at 413 USD so a 5x differential which is huge considering the product is recliner seats.

      So it's likely Indigo has seen an opportunity for something in-between. Like a 200 USD business class fare increasing to 350 close to departure when Y fares get close to 150 USD.

    2. Willmo Guest

      Like the model Rex uses for its business class in Australia

  5. Barbarella Guest

    Most safe economic option is to introduce Euro Business on short haul flights so they can reduce capacity to 0 if no seats are sold. A middle point would be to have extra legroom + extra padding for those seats and alternatively sell them as extra legroom economy 6 across as alternate.

    The only raison d'être for that short haul business class product would be to offer connecting business flights for their long hauls on...

    Most safe economic option is to introduce Euro Business on short haul flights so they can reduce capacity to 0 if no seats are sold. A middle point would be to have extra legroom + extra padding for those seats and alternatively sell them as extra legroom economy 6 across as alternate.

    The only raison d'être for that short haul business class product would be to offer connecting business flights for their long hauls on which they can easily put a competitive off the shelf product.

    This would fit the "redefine" appellation in the way they would push the market from US domestic 1st to Euro Business on the grounds no one needs domestic first seats on a short hop.

    Between busy and large population centers which have possibly more true premium demand like DEL-BLR they will anyway end up putting wide-bodies, on which they'll have the international product. Or not. They could go the JAL route and dedicate a subfleet of wide-bodies with recliners for domestic.

    In any case I don't see them up-gauging Air India and Vistara on the premium product. In Europe easyJet captures a lot of business travel, I see them going after that kind of market, not higher.

  6. CB Guest

    It may be a no frill business class as in Condor, and Zipair.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Condor and Zipair's business offerings aren't remotely comparable.

      There's not much that separates Condor's A330 business offering, from that of traditional longhaul airlines. It's arguably even better than Lufthansa's outgoing A330/A340/747 product.

      Zipair is "just" the larger (lieflat) seat. No difference in meals, entertainment, etc from the economy cabin.

  7. Luke Guest

    Not sure this will work in a extreme price sensitive market where most people would choose equivalent of Spirit airlines tight seat over a Qatar qsuite equivalent for a 1% fare difference!

    This is partly why airlines like Kingfisher & Jet failed while trying to offer premium products and experiences

    1. DCharlie Guest

      Not at all true. There are many ways to redeem and upgrade to business class - I rarely see the business class on the full service airlines empty in India. There are more than enough willing to pay extra to fill up the seats today, while leaving enough seats for the cost conscious. In addition, indigo has quite a fan following. Given their frequency and reach, many go out of the way to fly indigo...

      Not at all true. There are many ways to redeem and upgrade to business class - I rarely see the business class on the full service airlines empty in India. There are more than enough willing to pay extra to fill up the seats today, while leaving enough seats for the cost conscious. In addition, indigo has quite a fan following. Given their frequency and reach, many go out of the way to fly indigo and even purchase the premium seats. This service, on select routes such as BOM - DEL - BLR or DEL-BOM-DXB, could easily be a success.

      The problem with kingfisher and jet went well beyond economics. Kingfisher didn’t have a business model but was an extension of the owner’s ego. Jest didn’t have the reach nor the frequency to scale.

  8. vlcnc Guest

    It's an awful airline - anyone who has the misfortune of ending up on a codeshare with them after booking with Turkish Airlines will tell you. No interest here from me.

    1. VT-CIE Diamond

      It’s on you for not knowing what product 6E offers beforehand.

    2. vlcnc Guest

      It's not on me if its not the airline I booked to travel on with the product I chose and expected. It's on them - it's actually a joke to even codeshare with TK given their products are not remotely comparable nor to that standard of TK.

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      No, it's definitely on you.

      They disclose (by law) who the connecting carrier will be, and if you can't be bothered to learn what that entails-- then again, that's on you.

    4. jacobin777 Guest

      I've flown Indigo a bunch of times the past couple of years. Its a great airline.

    5. vlcnc Guest

      If you think IndiGo is a great airline, then clearly you haven't flown many airlines if a subpar low-cost Indian airline is "great" in your opinion.

    6. Sarthak Guest

      Move on, vlcnc. You are not winning this one.

    7. vlcnc Guest

      No I'm fine here thanks, not going to be put off from commenting because you wierdo Indian nationalists can't take the truth about your awful airlines.

    8. John Guest

      I'm all for crapping on a crap product, but Indigo is a good airline with good service. As far an Indian carries go / went, there were Vistara and Jet and then Indigo was the next. Way above Air India or the other low cost carriers (though we more often than not had good experiences with SpiceJet).

    9. Eskimo Guest

      @vlcnc

      You'll never win any argument against them.

      However, your misfortune is indeed on you. Especially if you're comparing TK to an Indian LCC.
      IndiGo is probably like the Indian AirAsia or Spirit, a well run LCC. They do get more credit because the theoretically better Air India sucks.
      Next time try Vistara. A closest reminder of the Kingfisher days.

    10. vlcnc Guest

      I'm not comparing them out of the blue, TK codeshare with IndiGo from Istanbul, and if you book with them to Indian desitinations sometimes you can end up on IndiGo metal which has a product that is not comparable to TK which is a full service arline. And this is not even about Indian airlines all being bad, as you say Vistara is good and its sad that it will absorbed into the awful of of Air India shortly.

    11. ImmortalSynn Guest

      "TK codeshare with IndiGo from Istanbul, and if you book with them to Indian desitinations sometimes you can end up on IndiGo metal"

      Which they will (and must) tell you that ahead of time, giving you the option to decide whether or not you wish to proceed with a purchase.

      If you do, then that (as everyone else here has already correctly informed you) is on you.

    12. vlcnc Guest

      No it is not, as firstly it's not always flagged clearly, also many customers won't be familiar that IndiGo is a low-cost airline, they will assume it is a comparable service given that TK is codesharing with them. The average customer is not engaged with these matters - that's why TK get a lot of complaints when someone finds themselves on IndiGo flight when they booked TK.

    13. DCharlie Guest

      @vlcnc - all ticketing agencies clearly state that the aircraft and services will be offered by the codeshare airline. You are responsible to go and check what the codeshare provides. This one’s a rookie mistake.

  9. sunviking82 Guest

    I think joining oneworld will follow this. It would be a huge win for the alliance, BA/IAG and AA for sure.

    1. VT-CIE Diamond

      About as likely as B6 joining an alliance, i.e., zero. 6E knows that its core niche is providing point-to-point connections across the country and beyond, from eastern Africa to central Asia. Joining an alliance would upend the whole strategy. Have WestJet or Virgin Australia (both with LCC roots) joined an alliance yet? No? You have your answer.

    2. W Diamond

      I agree with VT-CIE on this. But it would be nice for Oneworld to have a member airline based in India. And thanks to the huge networks of QR and CX into India, a domestic airline should be sufficient for now. But eventually, since the market and competition is growing, I think OW will need an Indian based member airline in the future. Whether that's a current airline or a new future airline remains to be seen.

  10. stogieguy7 Diamond

    Eurobusiness class is an abomination that I wouldn't wish for any airline to introduce. Hopefully, they adopt the American "first class" model which would make a lot more sense. Frankly, I find little value in wasting money on eurobusiness fares which still provide you with the same crappy 29" pitch of supposedly world-class airlines. If you enjoy massive disappointments, fly intra-European business class on a European carrier and be impressed with how much something can...

    Eurobusiness class is an abomination that I wouldn't wish for any airline to introduce. Hopefully, they adopt the American "first class" model which would make a lot more sense. Frankly, I find little value in wasting money on eurobusiness fares which still provide you with the same crappy 29" pitch of supposedly world-class airlines. If you enjoy massive disappointments, fly intra-European business class on a European carrier and be impressed with how much something can suck.

    Indigo didn't randomly become the #1 airline in the world's most populous nation. They clearly know what they're doing. Given this, I seriously doubt that these guys would try to foist a garbage product on their customers in the way that cocky carriers like BA or LH do.

  11. Deo Guest

    They also recently declared yearly profits of $ 1 bn for the first time ever. So I am guessing they can take some risks to see if they can succeed. If not, no harm done.

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ConcordeBoy Diamond

No, it's definitely on you. They disclose (by law) who the connecting carrier will be, and if you can't be bothered to learn what that entails-- then again, that's on you.

2
Deo Guest

They also recently declared yearly profits of $ 1 bn for the first time ever. So I am guessing they can take some risks to see if they can succeed. If not, no harm done.

1
DCharlie Guest

@vlcnc - all ticketing agencies clearly state that the aircraft and services will be offered by the codeshare airline. You are responsible to go and check what the codeshare provides. This one’s a rookie mistake.

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