Low-cost carriers IndiGo, GoAir, AirAsia India and SpiceJet will drive the next phase of fleet expansion in the country, with the four airlines alone accounting for 784 of the 920 expected inductions up to the next seven to eight years, according to data furnished by the government in the Lok Sabha last week. The fleet expansion, with a focus on regional routes and budget offerings, is also expected to further strain the already constrained airport infrastructure in the country.
The current capacity of Indian airports is 282 million passengers per annum, whereas the demand forecast for 2020-21 is 396 million passengers per year. A senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official recently told The Indian Express that the airports developer sought this data from airlines pertaining to how many aircraft are expected to be inducted to their fleets and when in order to prepare for the increasing capacity. “AAI has asked the airlines for the fleet data so that appropriate arrangements, both at the airside and the terminal side can be made. These include adding enough numbers of parking bays, night parking spots, hangars, terminal gates, etc apart from additional runways that may be required at some airports to accommodate the addition in capacity,” the official said. The AAI is undertaking expansion at a number of its airports along with new terminal buildings that are expected to come up at an approximate cost of Rs 4,200 crore.
While IndiGo alone is expected to add 448 planes — 399 Airbus A320s and 49 ATRs — its competitor SpiceJet is expected to induct 107 Boeing 737-800s and 50 Bombardier Q400s. Budget carrier GoAir, which is yet to take off on overseas routes, would induct 119 A320 planes during the period from 2018-2022. At present, its fleet size is 34. According to the data, AirAsia India would induct 60 planes in the next five years. Currently, the budget carrier has 14 aircraft.
Mumbai-based full service carrier Jet Airways — which has 107 aircraft — would take 81 B737-8 MAX planes during 2018-2024 period. It would also add five B737-800s this fiscal ending March 2018, while the disinvestment-bound Air India would induct three B777-300ER and 16 A320 planes between December this year and March 2019. The national carrier has 155 aircraft at present. Among others, full service carrier Vistara would induct five aircraft next year that would expand its current fleet of 17 planes. TruJet, which now has four planes, would add six aircraft each year from 2018-2022. These would be ATR72-500/600, the ministry data showed. After starting services this year, Zoom Air has placed orders for five CRJ-200 and 14 CRJ-900 planes. At present, it has two planes.
According to the latest Boeing Current Market Outlook, nearly 85 per cent of the new planes in India were likely to be single-aisle aircraft. However, it also pointed out the country’s aviation infrastructure with airports such as the one in Mumbai already being ‘choked’ was one of the pitfalls of the increase in number of planes. This could be one of the factors why planes with more passenger capacity could grow from the current 15 per cent to 25 per cent of the total aircraft going ahead. As per the Boeing estimate, India is expected to take deliveries of 2,100 new aircraft worth $290 billion in the coming 20 years buoyed with increasing number of passengers combined with a strong exchange rate, and high load factors.
Several airlines including larger ones such as IndiGo and SpiceJet, and newer ones like Air Deccan, Air Odisha, etc are expected to be key contributors to aircraft expansion considering their focus on the government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme. The Centre’s plan to bolster regional air connectivity, in its first phase saw offer for airlines to start subsidised services at 28 underserved airports, and 350 unserved airports, airstrips and helipads across the country.
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