Propelled by the tail wind generated by increasing domestic air travel demand, the Indian aviation industry continues to soar to new heights.
The world’s fastest growing air travel market for several months in a row has added another feather on its cap by being the third-largest domestic aviation market globally with more people flying within the country last year than Japan, which has been pushed to number four spot.
Calendar year 2016 saw 10 crore domestic flyers in India, more than the 9.7 crore in Japan, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA). “In 2015, India was at number four in domestic air travel and now it is at number three. Japan was number three in 2015,” said Kapil Kaul, India head of CAPA. “On the international-cum-domestic air travel front, India saw a combined traffic similar to the UK in 2016 and they are both at number four spot now. UK was ahead of India on this front in 2015. Given the way our air traffic is growing, India is all set to overtake UK this year,” said Kaul.
This data emerges from a report CAPA has prepared for the aviation ministry. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), India has overtaken Japan on domestic air travel front as the country has been the world’s fastest growing in-country market for 22 months in a row.
This growth, however, has left Indian airports – at least the big ones – choking. While slots for new flights at metro airports like Delhi and Mumbai are very hard to get, hovering of flights is a regular occurance again due to air traffic congestion. Given the massive growth, Indian carriers have ordered hundreds of planes but no one knows where they will even be parked. The government has said it will add aviation infrastructure. Navi Mumbai may get the hugely-delayed airport in a few years and Delhi could also expect another airport in NCR soon with a BJP government both at the Centre and in Lucknow.
“Our expectation is that we would have at least two to three greenfield (new) airports in UP. We are already working with the state government to determine where they would come. There is tremendous interest in a new greenfield airport in western UP and we will like to expedite it with the state government. The greenfield airport in western UP will definitely serve two purposes – enable world class air connectivity in the area and add more flight connectivity options for the NCR,” aviation minister Jayant Sinha said.