India beats Japan, which flew 97 million domestic passengers in 2016, to become the third largest aviation market in terms of domestic air traffic, according to a recent industry report by CAPA.
If reports are to be believed, India’s domestic air passenger traffic stood at 100 million in 2016 and was behind only the US (719 million) and China (436 million), according to CAPA Centre of Aviation. India acquired the third spot globally by unseating Japan, which flew 97 million domestic passengers in 2016, Capa said.
In a similar report published earlier this year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported India as the world’s fastest growing domestic air market for 22 months in a row. India witnessed a significant boom in the domestic aviation front, owing to low oil prices which made for cheaper air fares. A thriving middle class essentially added to the growth. IATA stated, “India led all domestic markets in year-on-year growth for the 22nd month in a row. January traffic soared by 26.6 pc, marking the 15th consecutive month of 20 pc-plus annual growth. Demand is being stimulated by strong flight frequency.”
Globally speaking, passenger traffic in the Asia-Pacific region jumped by 14.3 pc, while growth in North America lagged for the fourth consecutive month. “(Globally) Domestic air travel climbed 9.9 pc in January, year-on-year. All markets, except Brazil, showed growth, paced by double-digit increases in China, India and Russia,” IATA said.
Is India equipped to sustain sudden boom?
A rise in the domestic travel demand indicates increased flight frequency. “Passengers numbers carried by domestic airlines during Jan-Feb 2017 stood at 18.23 million as against 15.13 million during the corresponding period of previous year, thereby registering a growth of 20.51 pc,” reports Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Do the current Indian airports have enough space to accommodate the increase in flight numbers? The airports in the big-cities are witnessing a space crunch, especially, in the peak hours leading to delaying of flights. “Airlines are pleading with Mumbai airport to allow more domestic flights at night as the airport has no additional slots left,” reports an Indian daily. SpiceJet, a leading low-cost airline reported a 30 pc delay of flights.
“Unless the government acts fast on infra addition and multiple airports in metros, we will see a Mumbai-like crunch at more and more cities in coming years,” reports an airline official. The Aviation Ministry was recently given ‘in-principle’ approval for the construction of 18 greenfield airports to aid industrial advancement. However, the present dearth is proving to be harmful for both airlines and passengers. “Today, Indian airlines have ordered hundreds of planes, but, no one even knows where they will be parked,” wondered the airline official.