In an attempt to capitalize on the rapidly expanding aviation market, Indian airlines and major plane manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, are gearing up to unveil new orders and showcase large jets at the Wings India event in Hyderabad from Thursday to Sunday.
With India eyeing the status of a regional aviation hub comparable to Dubai and Singapore, the event is expected to attract representatives from leasing companies and government officials. Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia expressed optimism about the industry’s growth, anticipating double-digit annual increases in air traffic, airport infrastructure, and fleet size.
Despite India currently holding the title of the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, dominated by global carriers like Emirates in terms of international traffic, the focus is shifting towards strengthening the country’s position in the industry. Akasa, India’s newest airline set to commence international flights in 2024, is anticipated to announce an order for approximately 150 Boeing 737 MAX narrowbody planes during the aviation show.
However, questions linger about whether Akasa’s order includes Boeing’s controversial 737 Max 9 planes, which faced scrutiny from regulators following a recent cabin panel blowout. The industry continues to show resilience despite financial challenges faced by budget carriers GoFirst and SpiceJet, in the aftermath of the collapse of two other Indian airlines since 2011.
Minister Scindia asserted that bankruptcies are now a “thing of the past,” attributing the industry boom to the growth of smaller regional airlines and government incentives for carriers to operate flights to smaller towns. India’s commitment to airport development is evident in its $12 billion investment to build new airports and refurbish existing ones, aiming to increase the current count from 150 to about 200 within five years.
Data from aviation consultancy CAPA India and the government projects a surge in domestic passenger traffic to 350 million by 2030, up from 152 million in 2023. International travellers are expected to grow to 160 million, underscoring the market’s appetite for expansion. Currently, India boasts a fleet of approximately 700 aircraft, with pending orders for more than 1,500 planes by carriers such as IndiGo, Air India, and Akasa.
While the focus at the event leans toward the long-haul segment, with the display of Air India’s first Airbus A350 and the Boeing 777-9, some analysts caution about potential oversupply in the domestic market. Factors like engine issues, a pilot shortage exacerbated by proposed flying time restrictions, and intense competition pose risks to sustained profitability for airlines.