As the delivery of its first Airbus A321XLR draws closer, IndiGo has revealed that it is considering a business class cabin for the long-haul narrowbody jet. While details are yet to come, the decision would mark a major change for the budget airline, which only offers an all-economy layout on all its flights currently.
Built for longer travel
In an interview with PTI, seen in The Hindustan Times, IndiGo’s outgoing CEO Ronojoy Dutta shed light on the carrier’s plans for its A321XLRs. India’s biggest airline has historically been reluctant to offer details on the future fleet and is yet to reveal how many it currently has on order. However, this week, we learned some more information about the inside of the plane.
The biggest decision for IndiGo to make is whether the A321XLRs will offer a two-class layout. He said,
“But the real issue is are we going to go with a business class or not, and we haven’t decided that. But it’s increasingly looking likely that we will.”
IndiGo currently operates A320 and A321s in an all-economy, 3-3 layout. Photo: Getty Images
If true, IndiGo may choose to include recliner-style premium economy seats (as seen in budget carriers like Scoot) or even 2-2 flatbed business class seats (as seen in AirAsia X and other narrowbodies). While this will reduce the number of seats available for sale, at the right price, IndiGo might be able to sell fully sell these cabins on long flights.
Until now, IndiGo was restricted by the range of its Airbus A321neos, only being able to travel as far as Istanbul in the west. This was achieved with its standard all-economy layout, which did receive some criticism for excluding key amenities like hot meals and little legroom. However, with renewed competition and new routes, IndiGo has promised to improve seating and add hot meals on longer flights.
With the A321XLR, IndiGo may choose to enter a whole new direction, one that is relatively uncharted. Since the Airbus narrowbody can reach as far as Western Europe, the airline may be able to target premium leisure and some business travelers with its premium product. However, there is also a serious risk of losing out to full-service airlines and running losses due to empty flights.
The A321XLR promises to shake up the world of long-haul travel for airlines. Photo: Airbus
When it comes to economy, IndiGo is sticking to its usual formula of maximizing capacity. Dutta noted,
“In the back (economy class), the pitch is not going to go up too much… Maybe on some (economy class) seats it’ll go up to 33 (inches) or so.”
However, this is caveated by the fact that this number could change if there is no business class cabin. Moreover, we can expect an “economy plus” product with greater legroom and included meals, a staple on most airlines. For now, keep an eye out as IndiGo switches gears and goes long-haul.
What do you think about IndiGo’s idea of adding business class to its A321XLRs? Let us know in the comments.