IndiGo chief Pieter Elbers has pushed back on calling the airline a “traditional” low-cost operator, noting that it already has undertaken a series of initiatives that other low-cost carriers would not usually take. 

Speaking at the CAPA India Aviation Summit in Delhi, Elbers said IndiGo was a “unique” carrier that was “building on the development of India as a country”. 

CAPA India_Elbers

Source: CAPA India

IndiGo chief Pieter Elbers (right) speaking at the CAPA India Aviation Summit in Delhi.

“We have a co-branded credit card – is that what a traditional LCC does? We have eight [airline] partners, having just signed Japan Airlines – is that what a traditional LCC does?” says Elbers.

He adds: “I think we left the station of being [labelled] a ‘typical LCC’ if there is a such a thing. We left that station already. I don’t think we need to be labelled in one way or the other…IndiGo is a unique airline and we develop in a way that it should be developed.” 

Elbers’s comments come as the airline announced a flurry of fleet and product investments, including rolling out a business-class product by the end of year, as well as placing orders for 30 Airbus A350s. The airline is also due to take delivery of its first A321XLR in 2025, an aircraft Elbers says “brings a new dynamic” to its fleet and network strategy. 

The former KLM chief says these investments should be seen against a “bigger strategy” of the “dramatically” changing travel patterns in the Indian market. 

Elbers notes IndiGo began operations 18 years ago with about 90% of its capacity deployed on domestic flights, That has since gone down to about 70% as it grew its international network, a reflection of growing demand for international travel. 

His latest comments echo those made at the IATA AGM in Dubai, where he told Airline Business the roll-out of a new business-class product was not a departure from the low-cost operating model, but was “building on the existing model”. 

The new business-class product will be rolled out by the end of the year on aircraft serving “the busiest and business routes” in India.