IndiGo Launches Boeing 777-300ER Wet-Lease Operations

Turkish Airlines

Left to right: Bilal Eksi, Turkish Airlines CEO; Pieter Elbers, Indigo CEO.

Credit: Turkish Airlines

Indian LCC IndiGo launched widebody operations Feb. 1 with their first wet-leased Boeing 777-300ER from Turkish Airlines. 

IndiGo, an all-Airbus operator with a huge all-A320 family fleet, is replacing its A321 on that route with the 777. 

“We are pleased to see that IndiGo’s flights with widebody aircraft will contribute to the increase in capacity between the two countries,” Turkish Airlines General Manager Bilal Ekşi said. “Together with the codesharing agreement, [this] will create alternatives that will offer more opportunities to our passengers from India and all over the world.”

Within the agreement, Turkish Airlines is wet-leasing the 777 to IndiGo starting from Feb. 1 for one year. A second 777-300ER will operate the Istanbul-Mumbai service.

“Our goal is to expand this cooperation,” Turkish Airlines chairman Ahmet Bolat told Aviation Daily in an recent interview. “Both companies are working very closely together, and also working to increase frequencies.” 

Bolt hopes that the arrangement will work out well for both airlines. “Of course, the Boeing 777 has larger operating costs [than the A320],” he said, adding that the possibility is also there to increase the number of wet-leased 777s from the initial three to six. “The reason for the partnership is the enormous demand between India and Turkey.”

The 777-300ER offers 28 seats in business class and 372 in economy, which is the same that the Turkish Airlines 777 fleet offers. For Turkish Airlines, the aircraft will be replaced with a different 777-300ER which offers seven business class seats and 524 economy class seats, which will be added to the flag-carrier’s fleet later. A second 777-300ER with the same configuration will also be joining the Turkish Airlines’ fleet, the carrier said. 

While Turkish Airlines will be able to sell both business class and economy class tickets during the process, IndiGo Airlines sells economy class tickets only due to its operational structure. Within this framework, Turkish Airlines cabin crew will be serving business class passengers on these IndiGo flights, while the IndiGo cabin crew serves economy Class. Around 100 Turkish pilots who fly the 777s were trained in Indian aviation security regulations for these operations. 

“I would also like to thank the Indian and Turkish Civil Aviation Authorities for providing the necessary approval and support for the realization of this cooperation,” Eksi said. Aviation Daily understands that this kind of operation became possible as the Indian civil aviation ministry relaxed its norms for damp/wet-leasing of foreign aircraft.

Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann has been writing on the airline industry for 25 years. He appears frequently on Austrian, Swiss and German television and broadcasting…