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May 21, 2024
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India caught the aviation industry’s attention at the Paris show.  Here is our updated model of India’s domestic air traffic.

Please use the airline selector on the left to monitor each airline’s performance.

  • The market is still growing, but that growth rate seems to have slowed for passenger traffic while freight remains strong.
  • As we have seen elsewhere, India’s airlines are flying fuller flights – averaging 146 passengers per flight (the peak to date for our tracking) and system load factor at over 95%.  Does India need more aircraft? Yes.  Do they need larger aircraft? Yes.
  • On page 2, note the impact Akasa has already made.  Akasa is closing in on AirAsia’s market share level.
  • Page 3 shows how competitive this market is. Even if IndiGo has a nearly 60% market share, all competing airlines are flying at high load factors.

A few words on the recent Indian aircraft orders in Paris are apropos and add to what we published before.  Take a look at this table.  We list the population size and the nation’s active airline fleet (courtesy of ch-Aviation).  The key metric is the ratio of people in the country to aircraft.

India is a country of great potential in so many ways. The Economist once opined that more people travel in India by train in one than travel by air in a year.  That may have been a few years ago – in 2017, 23 million Indians took a train daily.  The data model above shows the steep curves seen in air traffic growth.

In the table above, India is ranked lowest by population/airliner.  Estimates are that in 2024 India’s economy will be larger than Germany’s.  The Financial Times noted that People Research on India’s Consumer Economy “estimates that there are about 432mn middle-class Indians — about one in every three people. The range of what Price ranks as middle class is large: household income of between 500,000 and 3,000,000 rupees (about $6,700 to $40,000) a year.”  These income levels are low by Western standards, but that is enough for discretionary spending.

A Columbia Business School report titled “Great Expectations: The Rise of the Indian Middle Class”  notes If India’s economy continues to grow as predicted, by 2025, the Indian middle class will number 583 million people, or 41 percent of India’s projected population, almost twice the current population of the United States.  Moreover, the aviation industry is bullish on India.  We heard an estimate that India’s middle class would be larger than the US population by 2040.

All this is to say that we could see the Indian airline fleet double. The big Paris orders were the first rounds of a much bigger growth; perhaps the fleet will double in the next 20 years.

author avatar
Addison Schonland
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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