The aircraft order book of the Indian airline industry will soon touch 1,080, which would mean that for every aircraft in service, there will be 2.2 aircraft on order, said a report released by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation(CAPA), a Sydney-based aviation think tank. There are an estimated 480-odd aircraft in the country at present. Currently, a total of 880 aircraft are on order, with most of the orders placed by low-cost carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet.
In the coming weeks, full service carriers Jet Airways and Vistara are expected to add to the tally and take the total order placed by Indian carriers to a four-digit number. The 2.2 ratio would be the highest of any major aviation market in the world. But what should have the government and airport operators worried is that of the expected 1,080 aircraft, more than 700 are scheduled for delivery within the next decade, and 400 within the next five years. This excludes orders yet to be placed and equipment to be taken on lease.
“In addition to the incumbent carriers, it is possible that India might see the entry of 1-2 new large start-ups, including Qatar Airways’ proposed venture. Aircraft induction on this scale will require massive infrastructure development, skilled resources and aircraft financing at a pace that has not been seen before in India,” said the CAPA report.
The CAPA report pointed out that airport infrastructure challenges could constrain growth and lead to sub-optimal operations and network economics. “Parking bays and runway slots will become increasingly scarce over the next few years, especially at metro airports. Signs of congestion are already emerging at Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi and the situation will become more acute unless airports are able to construct 400 parking bays and enhance airside capacity within five years. Otherwise airlines will face challenges in implementing their base and network plans,” the report said.
In March, India became the third-largest domestic aviation market in the world, beating Japan. India’s domestic air passenger traffic stood at 100 million in 2016 and was behind only the US (719 million) and China (436 million). In contrast, though, is the poor infrastructure growth. In the year ended March 31, 2017, Mumbai airport beat London’s Gatwick to become the world’s busiest airport with a single runway.