IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi International) is planning to venture into the widebody market, although initially only through a wet-lease contract for three A330 aircraft, The Economic Times has reported citing unnamed but "well informed" sources.

The Indian low-cost carrier mulled over launching own long-haul services in the past but ultimately decided against adding widebody aircraft to avoid complexity.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic created a new opportunity for the airline as many passengers will either prefer or for reasons related to border closures have to travel directly between India and key long-haul markets, as opposed to connecting via major hubs in the Middle East or South-East Asia.

The timeline for the launch of the wet-lease contract and the operating airline were not identified. IndiGo Airlines did not respond to ch-aviation's request for comment. The LCC would most likely target London as its first destination for the A330.

To date, IndiGo Airlines was adamant that its A321-200NX - of which it operates 18 and has a further 380 on firm order from Airbus - had sufficient range for its planned network.

The airline would be the second Indian LCC adding wet-leased widebody capacity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic after SpiceJet (SG, Delhi International), which is reportedly in talks with Oman Air (WY, Muscat) about wet-leasing up to three of its A330s and plans to start using the aircraft for repatriation charters to London Heathrow already by the end of July 2020.

However, while IndiGo Airlines is planning to expand intercontinentally with the A330s, it is also reducing its headcount. It said that despite "a number of measures such as Pay Cuts, Leave Without Pay and various other costs (...) unfortunately, these cost savings are clearly not enough to offset the decline in revenues". As such, IndiGo Airlines will engage in its first ever mass layoffs and "will need to bid a painful adieu to 10 per cent of [its] workforce".