Airbus is trying to break the hold of Boeing amongst the Indian widebody operators, bringing down its A350 Airspace Explorer demonstration aircraft on a South Asia Tour to showcase to potential customers in India. The aircraft visited Dhaka, Delhi, and Mumbai, before being displayed at the Wings India aviation event which will be held in Hyderabad between March 24-27. 

At a media briefing organized in Delhi, Remi Maillard, President and Managing Director of Airbus India and South Asia spoke about the case for the A350 to be considered by the Indian carriers. He mentioned that India is expected to deliver aviation growth amongst the G20 countries over the next 20 years.

However, this growth story has been mostly driven by the domestic market. For the international long-haul market, the picture comes up differently.  Foreign carriers operating in India have captured 94 percent of the growth in the International long-haul market, said Remi, and Indian carriers only managed to get 6 percent of the growth.

As a consequence, Indian carriers only control 14 percent of the long-haul market out of India. As a comparison, Chinese carriers control 38 percent of the long-haul market out of China. For the most lucrative market out of India, the United States, the Indian carriers are only limited to 12 percent of the market, while the Middle Eastern Carriers get 40 percent of the market share. 

Huge untapped opportunity for long-haul

Airbus indicates that there is a huge untapped opportunity for Indian carriers to develop in the long-haul market. Airbus’s South Asia MD mentioned that India has the Indian Geography working for it, which is in an ideal location between the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. India also has the demographic dividend and economic dividend working for it. In his view, the growth seen in the domestic market can also be seen in the long-haul market. 

Both the long-haul operators in India, namely Air India and Vistara, are owned fully or partly by the Tata Sons. While Air India operates a fleet of Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft for its international long-haul operations, Vistara has received two out of its six 787-9 aircraft from Boeing, being used for international operations so far. Airbus last had a share in the market when Jet Airways operated the A330 for its international operations, and before that, with Kingfisher Airlines which was also an A330 operator. 

Airbus believes that sooner than later there will be a fleet expansion/replacement order coming from Air India, as they simply don’t have enough aircraft to expand internationally in a manner to sustain growth over a longer period of time. Now that the airline has been privatized, it will look to invest in a modernized aircraft fleet sooner than later. The average age of Air India’s Boeing 777 fleet is over twelve years, and the 787 fleet is over 7.5 years, but five of Air India’s 27 787-8 aircraft are inoperable and have been grounded for long.

Airbus believes it has a long-standing relationship with the Tata Group already, as it already has the A320 aircraft operating across Air India, Vistara, and AirAsia India, the three airlines with an investment from the Tata Group, and the Tatas are also partners in Airbus’ defense manufacturing venture in India, which will provide the C295 aircraft to the Indian Air Force. 

Airbus will present a detailed Commercial Outlook for India in the coming days at Wings India 2022 event. 

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Ajay Awtaney
ajay@livefromalounge.com | + posts

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe.

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