Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha has stated that the demand in aviation sector in India is driven by “affordability”. He also maintained that the cost of long-distance air travel in the country is equivalent to auto-rickshaw fares. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the Gujarat Aviation Conclave 2017 which was organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Sinha asserted that the cost of long-distance air travel in the country is INR 5 per kilometre which is equivalent to auto-rickshaw fares.
Emphasising on air travel in India having a “hit rail-parity”, Sinha stated, “In fact, some people have calculated that the cost of flying is about INR 5 per kilometre on a typical (Airbus) 320 or a (Boeing) 737….that is the cost of taking an auto-rickshaw. For long distance travel, flying is extremely affordable and extremely cost-effective.”
He further added, “Affordability is driving the demand. Because of the continued stability in the Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices, which constitute 30-40 per cent of the flying cost and because the aviation technology is moving quickly, flying continues to be very affordable and therefore you will continue to see strong demand for aviation going forward.”
India is a booming aviation market globally with an increasing number of people taking to air travel owing to ‘affordable’ air fares and the Regional Connectivity Scheme that promotes connectivity through air routes. 160 million travellers preferred travelling via aerial routes as compared to the 130 million who took to air-conditioned rail coaches. “The demand for aviation in India is literally, going through the roof. The reason is aviation in India has hit rail parity. The price of flying now is equal to price of travelling in air-conditioned coaches of Indian Railways.”
India is predicted to emerge as the third largest passenger market by 2023, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). India needs an expansion, in terms of the number of operating carriers and airport infrastructure to envision the prediction and to meet the growing demand. Post GST, domestic aviation will witness a boost citing reduced air fares as opposed to an increase in business class air fares.
Jayant Sinha stated, “Airline operators in India currently operate about 500 aircraft. Orders for another 850 planes have already been placed, of which 400 will come in the next five years. India with 160 million passenger trips a year had a long way to go before catching up with China which has 500 million passenger trips and United States which has 900 passenger trips.” He also announced the ministry’s plans of placing orders for about “600 warplanes in the next 10 years.”