The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported that India’s aviation market is becoming significant. Domestic air travel in India grew strongly, and by February 2023, it was only 2.2% below pre-pandemic levels based on passenger revenue kilometers (PRK). In the latest aviation industry report, the Indian domestic passenger market emerged as the leader among the US, China, and Japanese domestic markets, consistently recording the highest passenger load factor (PLF) for the past four months.
In February 2023, global traffic increased by 55.5% compared to the previous year, reaching 84.9% of February 2019 levels based on PRKs. According to a report, Asia-Pacific airlines saw a significant increase in air traffic in February 2023, with a rise of 378.7% compared to February 2022.
India has only around 35 to 40 million air travellers every year, several of whom are repeat flyers, compared to China’s 660 million air transport passengers in 2019, despite the two countries sharing similar populations. However, India’s growing middle class and income rise, coupled with lower airfares, are prompting airline companies to predict significant growth in India’s aviation market for the foreseeable future.
Foreign airlines and manufacturers are showing interest in India’s aviation market. Singapore Airlines has invested $267 million in the newly-revamped Air India group after its takeover by Tata Sons, and Etihad Airways plans to expand its presence in India’s aviation market by launching flights to six Indian cities it currently does not serve, in addition to Delhi and Mumbai.
Etihad plans to increase its fleet to 150 and carry 30 million annual passengers within the next decade, according to an announcement. The Middle Eastern airline’s expansion strategy will prioritize medium and long-haul destinations while avoiding ultra-long-haul flights to ensure profitability. The focus will be on connecting China, Southeast Asia, India, and Gulf countries to Europe and the East Coast of the United States.