What’s next for the Indian aviation market?

Commercial aviation in India is undergoing a major upheaval this year. IndiGo continues to dominate the market as the country’s largest carrier, but Air India has new owners, start-up Akasa Air has launched with a fleet of 737 MAX jets and Jet Airways is set to be launched. RELAUNCH.

Meanwhile, Hans Airways and flypop, both based in the UK, hope to capitalize on the expected growth in Indian air travel by aiming to connect Britain to mid-tier cities in India.

AeroTime takes a look at the latest developments in India.

Is the market big?

In 2019, 200 million passengers traveled by air in India. Not much for a country of over 1.3 billion people.

Neil Fraser, director of airline analytics at aviation data, intelligence and consultancy firm IBA, told AeroTime that a longstanding problem with the Indian market was that the population had never enough disposable income to fly regularly. “While India overtook the UK economy for the first time in September 2022, GDP per capita lags far behind,” he noted.

However, the country’s aviation minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia, has predicted that passenger numbers will double to 400 million over the next four years. In fact, the country has already experienced phenomenal growth, with only 60 million passengers traveling by air in 2013-14.

At an event for the inauguration of Akasa Air’s first flight on August 7, 2022, Scindia enthused about the transformation of India’s air travel market, praising Prime Minister Narendra’s “foresight” and “zeal” Modi for helping to democratize civil aviation.

“Previously, this industry was seen as reserved for the elite,” he said, as quoted by Hindustan time. “His dream, his vision – that a person wearing slippers could also fly on an airplane – has led to a transformation of this sector over the last eight years in terms of affordability, accessibility and inclusion like us never seen him before.”

An airplane flies over the Qutub Minar tower. Credit: Somphop Krittayaworagul / Shutterstock.com

Independent aviation analyst Brendan Sobie, founder of Sobie Aviation, said India’s market growth could be compared to China’s rapid growth in recent years and could be the growth story of the next decade.

“I would say India is a market with huge potential,” he told AeroTime. “There is room for several expanded or new domestic competitors as the domestic market will continue to grow rapidly. In the international market, the outbound segment is poised for potentially very rapid growth that could rival what we have seen with outbound China in the decade before the pandemic.

By comparison, Sobie pointed out that China has grown from 292 million in 2011 to 660 million passengers in 2019. Within this, it took China six years to grow from almost 200 million passengers in 2008 to almost 400 million in 2014, which is similar to doubling. expected growth for the Indian market

“Look at the number of Chinese carriers compared to Indian carriers, and you can see there’s probably room for more Indian competitors,” Sobie pointed out.

What are the biggest airlines in India?

IBA shared data on Indian airlines with AeroTime from its Overview of the IBA aeronautical data platform, showing the number of flights by operator so far in 2022, up to September 23, 2022.

largest carriers in india international 2022

Credit: AeroTime with data from IBA Insight

largest domestic airlines in india 2022

Credit: AeroTime with data from IBA Insight

Given the gap between it and its rivals, IndiGo is unlikely to lose its title as India’s largest carrier any time soon. However, there are plenty of interesting developments among its rivals that we should keep an eye out for.

The revamped

IndiGo and Air India planes in Mumbai

IndiGo and Air India planes. Credit: Anand Balaji / Shutterstock.com

It took several years, but eventually the Indian government managed to privatize Air India, selling it to the Tata Group in October 2021. It represented a full circle for the airline whose roots date back to 1932, when it was known as the name of Tata Airlines.

The acquisition, which was officially completed on January 27, 2022, means that Tata Group now has several airlines in its ownership. Along with Air India and Air India Express, it also holds a 51% stake in Vistara, a joint venture with Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY), and an 83.67% stake in AirAsia India. Tata Group is widely expected to merge some of its airline brands, with reports that it plans to combine Vistara and Air India.

Tata Group will no doubt take steps to ensure Air India comes back stronger. The new owners said there was still a long way to go to rebuild the carrier to its former glory. The carrier has already signed leases and letters of intent for 25 Airbus narrowbody jets and five Boeing widebody jets, which are expected to enter service in late 2022, and is also reportedly considering a big order for hundreds of new narrowbody jets. .

Meanwhile, Jet Airways is set to relaunch after going out of business in 2019 following bankruptcy. The carrier, which was taken over by the Jalan Kalrock consortium, carried out trial and test flights in May and all eyes are now on the launch of ticket sales.

The carrier previously said it hoped to launch in the third quarter of 2022. With the end of the third quarter fast approaching, however, the carrier has yet to begin ticket sales. New chief executive Sanjiv Kapoor has taken to social media to say the internal target is to launch ticket sales by October and that getting it right is more important than being quick.

A few days later, in response to an Economic Times article, he said an aircraft announcement was expected “soon”. “We are working to open for sale as soon as possible… If it takes a little longer to get [the aircraft and engine contracts] good, that’s fine. [As they say]“act in haste, repent at leisure”.

The new comers

akasa air boeing 737 max

Aircraft of Akasa Air. Credit: Exploring_frog/ Shutterstock.com

Among the biggest developments in India in 2022 is the launch of Akasa Air. The new low-cost airline, with a distinctive purple and orange livery, made its first flight on August 7, 2022 and plans to operate 250 flights per week by October 10, 2022.

After ordering 72 Boeing 737 MAXs, Akasa is adding a new plane every 15 days and expects to have 18 planes in its fleet by the end of March 2023. From then on, it will slow deliveries slightly, taking 12 to 14 planes every 12 days. months, to give it a fleet of 72 aircraft over the five-year period since launch.

The carrier seeks to connect metropolitan areas with second and third tier cities in India. On September 16, it announced the capital, New Delhi, as the sixth destination for its network.

Meanwhile, two start-ups, Hans Airways and Flypop, hope to tap into the passenger market between secondary cities in Britain and India.

Hans Airways, which describes itself as a hybrid long-haul airline, conducted its test flight for UK authorities on August 31, 2022 aboard its newly re-registered Airbus A330-200, G-KJAS. Once he has his British Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), he will apply to the Indian regulator for the license to fly from India. Hans plans to make Amritsar in northern India his first destination from his base at Birmingham Airport, and said on September 2 he hopes to start flying in October.

“There will be setbacks and consolidation – that’s healthy,” Sobie commented. “India remains a very difficult market for airlines from a financial perspective despite all the growth potential. But any gaps that remain will be filled quickly and we will likely continue to see new entrants given the opportunities at the both in the domestic market and in the market.

It’s clearly an interesting time for Indian aviation and we’ll be here to cover all the big news. What are your predictions for the market? Let us know!