India’s airlines barely keep pace with vast demand

Ten years ago, 2008-9, Indian airline passenger flights totalled just over 108 million passengers- equal to 10% of the population.

This year that number has already exceeded 309 million around 22% of the current population in equivalent numbers.

It isn’t just that demand is growing, it’s the rate at which that demand is increasing – currently around 18% per year with a high of 19% in 2016-17. Before that, 2012-14 saw increases of up to 22%.

The vast majority of that traffic – indeed one of the highest ratios in the world, is domestic. 71% of all passenger traffic is internal with 29% international.

The busiest routes are almost all equal on international and all to the same destination. Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata share almost equal volumes to Dubai.

There are 85 Indian airports operating at least one daily scheduled flight, the largest airline is Indigo, followed by JetAirways and Air India some way behind that.

Emirates is the largest foreign carrier, followed by Saudia, Etihad and Oman Air.

Indian aviation is booming and will continue to do so when large distances can’t easily be travelled by rail or road, in a vast country with poor infrastructure in many areas.

Indian authorities struggle to keep up with the pace of airport development, air traffic infrastructure is poor but critical to continued growth. On top of that technical inspection and safety services are permanently stretched.

Like it or not India needs to prioritise it’s populations avaition needs – people want to fly as much out of need as choice, the government needs to do far more to make sure India’s aircraft safety and infrastructure can cope with such spiralling demand.