The rags to riches stories of billionaires are often awe-inspiring, but this one airline has gone against all odds to deliver a success story amidst all the challenges. The airlines industry has favoured only a few but hasn't been easy on any. IndiGo managed to stay afloat, power through any obstacles and sustain a successful business for over one and a half-decade. IndiGo launched its first flight 15 years ago on August 4, and today, it is the largest carrier by fleet.
Those were the days when Kingfisher was all over the news and IndiGo had started its business just a year later - without all the bells and whistles. Years passed and Kingfisher Airlines folded and even the major airlines were feeling the brunt of the first wave of liberalization. IndiGo held its ground, maintained a steady pace and became the go-to airline for budget-friendly flights.
Quantity worked in its favour
Flying from one place to another was considered a luxury back in the day, but IndiGo changed it with its economics model. It expanded its fleet rapidly and offered expansive connectivity, reaching cities where other airlines wouldn't. Besides Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai, IndiGo tapped into some remote cities like Coimbatore, Guwahati and Lucknow. This strategy helped the airline gain an edge over its competitors.
IndiGo rattled the biggies with this new strategy, but even Kingfisher and Jet Airways couldn't successfully replicate this model and soon their Kingfisher Red and JetKonnect failed.
Things that really worked for IndiGo were affordable fares, hassle-free journeys, and on-time performance.
Here's a quick run-through of important milestones achieved by IndiGo over the years.
- First IndiGo flight took off in August 2006
- In four years, it became the third-largest carrier by market share in December 2010
- After successful domestic journey, IndiGo went international in September 2011
- By February 2012, it had 50 aircrafts, and the same year in August, it overtook Jet Airways as the largest carrier in India by market share
- In November 2014, the fleet inducted 100th plane from its first order in 2005
- In August 2015, it further placed an order for 250 aircrafts
- In November 2017, it took first delivery of ATR72-600
- In December 2018, IndiGo took delivery of first A321neo
- In December 2019, IndiGo's fleet size crossed 250 aircrafts
Turbulence in journey
IndiGo's net loss widened on a year-on-year basis in Q1FY22, growing to Rs 3,174.2 crore from Rs 2,844.3 crore in the year-ago quarter. The airline's total income for the quarter ended June 2021 was Rs 3,170.3 crore, representing an increase of 177.2 percent over the same period last year.
Despite this, the airline said it has a "strong balance sheet" with a total cash of Rs 17,067.9 crore including free cash of Rs 5,620.7 crore. It further said that given the current cash position, the company continues to evaluate the timing and the size of any QIP.
IndiGo has made it this far and its journey ahead is going to be a major story in the Indian aviation space.