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Rails to Riches: Rail OTA leader ixigo now wants a piece of everything

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Raghav Mahobe

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Raghav Mahobe

15 reads

A contrarian bet on India’s passenger rail segment a decade ago has seen ixigo grow to rule the rail OTA roost. Having also emerged as the second largest intercity bus OTA and cracking profitability, the Gurugram-headquartered company is now coming for the hotel and air travel space, too.

December 19, 2023

11 MINS READ

Key Takeaways

  • In FY23, Ixigo’s operating revenue crossed Rs 501.3 crore—a 4.5X surge from pre-pandemic levels
  • The company's growth can largely be attributed to its rail-first approach, which has made it among the top choices for booking train tickets
  • This strategy puts ixigo in a unique position in a market that is dominated by companies focused on the higher-margin air travel and accommodation segments
  • Now, however, ixigo—which has already made inroads into intercity bus booking—also wants a slice of the air travel and hotel bookings pie

In November, ixigo released its results for the financial year ended March 2023. The online travel agency (OTA) posted operating revenues of Rs 501.3 crore—a 32% jump, year-on-year.

Not only was this a 4.5X increase from the company’s pre-pandemic operating revenues of Rs 111.6 crore in the financial year ending March 2020, but it also marked the company’s return to profitability and how. The Rs 23.4 crore profit the company posted—only the second time ixigo has achieved profitability—was its largest-ever bottom line.

Of course, ixigo is hardly the only OTA seeing an uptick in fortunes, with the rising tide of post-Covid revenge travel raising most OTA boats. MakeMyTrip (MMT), for instance, has flirted with profitability and EaseMyTrip’s profit after tax stood at just north of Rs 134 crore in the same period.

Unlike its peers, however, Elevation Capital-backed ixigo has had a markedly different path to OTA success, boldly charting a course far from the typical focus areas of air ticketing and hotel bookings. While it started life as a metasearch company in 2007, aggregating and comparing information across multiple airline websites for users, it changed tracks in 2013.

revenues ixigo

Unlike its peers, Gurugram-headquartered ixigo bet big on India’s sprawling 68,000-kilometre railway network and launched a rail app in 2013. The app served various use cases for train travellers, including running PNR (passenger name record) status checks, predicting the chance of confirmation of waitlisted PNRs, helping passengers figure out platforms at stations, etc.

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