DELHI- In the coming 12 months, India’s airlines are poised to increase their fleet capacity by almost 25% (150 aircraft), a development expected to accommodate the growing number of passengers and address the gap left by Go First’s suspension, as indicated by data gathered from various airlines on Tuesday.
Approximately 150 aircraft are anticipated to be incorporated into the fleets during this period, marking the most significant fleet expansion in recent memory. The previous record was set with the addition of 72 aircraft in FY20.
Indian Airlines 150 Aircraft
Presently, Indian airlines operate around 600 aircraft, excluding over 150 planes grounded for various reasons such as engine issues and the grounded Go First (G8) fleet.
“Over the period from October 2023 to October of the following year, the Air India group is set to integrate 92 aircraft into its fleet, with Air India contributing 42, and the remaining additions to be made by its subsidiary, AI Express,” stated Campbell Wilson, Chairman, and Managing Director of Air India, during an interview. Currently, Air India operates with a fleet of 120 aircraft.
Representatives from IndiGo, the largest airline in the country with a current fleet size of 334 planes, have affirmed their goal of incorporating one aircraft per week throughout 2024, commencing in January.
However, considering the return of some leased aircraft, the net increase is expected to be around 35 aircraft for the upcoming year,” explained an airline official.
Fastest Growing Airline in the World
Likewise, the most recent addition to India’s airline landscape, Akasa, received its 20th aircraft in August of this year. According to airline officials, the company is scheduled to take delivery of two more aircraft this month.
In response to queries about the number of aircraft planned for induction in the upcoming year, an airline representative mentioned, “The airline is slated to incorporate 18 aircraft into its fleet from January to December next year.”
CAPA India, an aviation consultancy firm, recently reported that Indian carriers currently have a minimum of 150 grounded aircraft, and this number is expected to surpass 200 by the end of March 2024.
The planned 25% expansion in the fleet is aimed at recuperating losses and addressing the decrease in capacity resulting from Go First’s suspension since May of this year.
This expansion aligns with the double-digit growth in passenger numbers observed in the aviation industry. Nevertheless, analysts emphasize that the significant challenge lies in the grounding of planes, particularly those of IndiGo, due to engine issues.
Concerns have arisen regarding pricing and fares impacting travelers. Airfares are influenced by various factors, with the most significant being increased demand on specific routes and a surge in operational costs.
Despite the high fares, domestic traffic reached a record on November 20, with 459,526 passengers carried.
Mark Martin, the head of Martin Consultancy, emphasized the need for a minimum of 300 aircraft to ensure the seamless functioning of the industry. He stated,
“The actual count of grounded aircraft across the airlines currently stands at 250, not the figures claimed by the airlines. The addition of 150 aircraft will not adequately address the growing passenger numbers. This is likely to result in a significant escalation of airfares, posing challenges for passengers.”
Contrastingly, the travel industry believes that the introduction of more aircraft will stimulate demand. Jyoti Mayal, the president of TAAI (Travel Agents Association of India), remarked,
“The surge in passenger demand has driven the decision to incorporate more aircraft and open additional routes. There has been a notable increase in passenger demand, and as the president of TAAI, we are optimistic that this trend of heightened demand will persist in the latter part of the year as well.”
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