India's largest low-cost airline, IndiGo, signalled ambitions to take on industry leaders Jet Airways and Kingfisher on Wednesday with a $15.6-billion (about Rs70,000 crore) aircraft purchase deal with Airbus that marked a world record in commercial aviation history.
The 180-aircraft deal for deliveries from 2016 came less than a month after the carrier displaced Air India to become the country's third largest airline with a market share of 17.3%. Jet has a domestic market share of 26.2% and Kingfisher 19.1% while Air India stands at 17.1%.Delivery of its latest purchase will take place after 100 aircraft from an earlier deal are delivered by Airbus. It currently has 34 aircraft.
Gurgaon-based IndiGo has a long way to go in matching its services and expansion with the deal to bring in more jets.
"These are nice, big numbers but without qualified manpower — pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers — they don't make sense," said aviation expert Capt Mohan Ranganathan.
IndiGo, which completes five years in August, has applied to become an international airline. "We are entitled to begin international operations from August and are hopeful to do so," its president Aditya Ghosh told HT. Company sources said IndiGo plans an initial public offer of shares to fund the purchase.
With its international flights and impending fleet expansion, IndiGo can potentially match up to Jet (with a 97-strong fleet) Kingfisher (66) and AI (100).