Largest order in aviation history: IndiGo to purchase 500 aircraft from Airbus

The deal announced at the beginning of the Paris Air Show will take IndiGo's fleet to 1,330 aircraft.
Ameya Paleja
IndiGo's order of 500 aircraft is the biggest in commercial aviation thus far
IndiGo's order of 500 aircraft is the biggest in commercial aviation thus far


India's low-cost carrier IndiGo created a world record in commercial aviation on Monday when it signed a purchase agreement for 500 aircraft with European plane maker Airbus. The order eclipses a 470-aircraft deal IndiGo's rival Air India signed with Airbus and Boeing earlier this year.

Even as airlines worldwide are still struggling to match pre-pandemic traffic levels, the Indian civil aviation market is writing a different story. Earlier this month, air traffic in India surpassed the levels of December 2019 and appeared to be going strong against the backdrop of a strong economy and growing disposable incomes.

The country, which also recently surpassed China to become the world's most populous nation, is expected to add millions of first-time flyers shortly, and the booming aviation market is expected to see high demand for aircraft. With the recent order, IndiGo is looking to secure its fleet size, which has increased since its inception.

The IndiGo fleet

Founded in 2006, IndiGo has relied heavily on Airbus to become one of the fastest-growing carriers in the world. IndiGo received its first A320neo aircraft in March of 2016 and currently boasts one of the largest fleets of Airbus A320 aircraft.

With its enhanced aerodynamics and latest-generation engines, the A320 family of aircraft allows airlines to operate with reduced fuel consumption and greater profitability. IndiGo's past orders for A320 aircraft mean that the airline now has 264 aircraft in its fleet. This consists of 162 A320neo, 79 A321neo, 21 A320ceo, and 2 A321 freighters.

IndiGo currently operates 1,800 daily flights connecting 78 destinations within the country and now has its eye set on international routes as it aims to fly to 32 international destinations soon.

Flying into the future

With the world recession, IndiGo's bet might look too risky, especially in a sensitive market like aviation. However, the airline operates on a simple philosophy of affordable fares and on-time flights and has found the right partner in Airbus, which offers the most expansive cabin in single-aisle aircraft, maximizing comfort.

IndiGo's bet is also based on predictions from the International Monetary Fund that India is expected to outperform significant economies worldwide, and its gross domestic product will grow at 5.9 percent, CNN reported earlier.

Companies like Apple have moved to open flagship stores nationwide to attract a new pool of customers as the rest of the world lags. The sentiment was also reflected in the statement made by Pieter Elbers, CEO of IndiGo. "This order strongly reaffirms IndiGo’s belief in the growth of India, in the A320 Family, and our strategic partnership with Airbus. An order book now of almost 1000 aircraft well into the next decade enables IndiGo to fulfill its mission to continue to boost economic growth, social cohesion, and mobility in India."

The aircraft are scheduled to be delivered between 2030 and 2035 and take IndiGo's aircraft count to 1,330, making it one of the leading airlines in the world.

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