India predicting huge growth in passenger counts

    India is predicting a return to pre-COVID passenger counts by the end of the 2020 or Q1 of 2021. Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri remarked the dramatic recovery of the domestic market and said he expects massive growth in the Indian aviation industry in the coming months. India recently hit a post-COVID passenger record during Diwali.

    Recovery expectations

    India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that he expects air travel to make a full recovery by 31st December or early January 2021. This would mean reaching pre-pandemic levels across the board, a significant achievement just months after flights resumed.

    He added that domestic flights have now touched 70% capacity and there are discussions about increasing the passenger capping to 80% anytime soon. India currently has both capacity and fare cappings for domestic flights. Passenger numbers have grown exponentially since May, rising from 30,000 daily travellers to over 225,000 during Diwali last week.

    While domestic flights might be improving, international flights remain considerably lower than pre-COVID counts. This is primarily due to border closures globally and India’s ban on scheduled international flights, limiting the total number of flights. 

    Growth expected

    Looking beyond the pandemic, Mr Puri said that he expects over 100 new airports to become operational in the next few years and India’s total fleet sizes to reach 2,000 aircraft. This would be a massive leap from the current fleet of 750 aircraft and surpass previous expectations. However, he remains confident that India can quickly return to pre-COVID growth amounts and continue to enter the vast Indian market.

    Indian airlines do have vast orders on the books with aircraft manufacturers. IndiGo, the biggest carrier in the country, has over 700 planes on order with Airbus. SpiceJet, the second-largest carrier, has nearly 200 737 MAXs on order with Boeing. However, the pandemic has seen notable shifts in fleet sizes in the coming years. 

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