Advertisement
trendingNowenglish2637297

Exclusive: Despite Challenges, Indian Aviation Journey Soaring To New Horizons

By capitalizing on the nation's tourism potential, and improving domestic and international connectivity, India is poised to conquer new horizons in the global aviation landscape.

Exclusive: Despite Challenges, Indian Aviation Journey Soaring To New Horizons Image for representation

The recent Paris Air Show buzzed with excitement as Airbus sealed a groundbreaking deal, announcing an order for 500 narrow body jets from IndiGo, India's very own budget carrier. The air industry was thriving as Air India Ltd also embarked on a mission to acquire 540 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus. These extraordinary agreements come as no surprise, considering that India ranks third in the world for domestic air traffic, showcasing the nation's emergence as a global aviation powerhouse. The surge in air travel is propelled by an aspirational middle class, fuelling the demand for flights across the country.

With projections of over 140 million passengers in FY2024 and an estimated 1.3 billion passengers annually within the next two decades, India's domestic market continues to grow at an unprecedented pace. In fact, in a single month, domestic carriers transported over 13 million passengers, solidifying India's position as the third-largest domestic market globally.

As the industry thrives, the expansion of Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facilities has become a priority. Positive signs emerged when the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate for MRO services was reduced from 18% to 5% in 2022, easing the financial burden. Furthermore, the finance ministry's expansion of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) alleviated liquidity stress caused by the pandemic, demonstrating the government's support for the aviation sector.

Despite the overall optimism, Indian aviation has weathered its fair share of challenges. The recent crisis faced by GoFirst highlights the formidable obstacles airlines encounter, including operational expenses, fuel costs, and intense competition. However, amidst these challenges, new players like Akasa Air have taken flight. Backed by the late Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, the low-cost airline expanded its fleet by ordering additional Boeing 737-8 aircraft, signalling confidence in India's aviation market.

For the industry to flourish, initiatives like the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) play a pivotal role. By capping airfare and allocating seats for RCS flights, the scheme enhances accessibility for passengers, contributing to sustainable low-cost aviation. The coordination between Indian Air Force and route rationalization promises improved airspace management and efficiency.

Furthermore, digitalization initiatives such as the 'e-sahaj' portal and 'Digi-Yatra,' along with smart technologies like AI, streamline operations and enhance the overall passenger experience. While India's aviation industry continues to soar, the need for world-class infrastructure remains a priority.

The World Economic Forum's ranking of India's airport infrastructure quality highlights the demand for approximately 200 new airports to accommodate the expanding customer base. Developing new airports, investing in modern air traffic control systems, fostering public-private partnerships, and simplifying regulatory frameworks are essential steps towards realizing India's goal of becoming a global aviation force.

Moreover, the shortage of skilled pilots poses a significant challenge to the industry. With only 9,000 pilots currently flying 700 aircraft, the demand for 1,800 to 2,000 additional pilots within the next year emphasizes the urgency for more flight training organizations. Boeing's estimation of 31,000 pilots and 26,000 mechanics required over the next two decades underscores the need for world-class training infrastructure to meet these demands and prepare the next generation of aviators.

India's aviation potential is no longer dormant; it is taking flight with ambition and determination. By nurturing raw talent, capitalizing on the nation's tourism potential, and improving domestic and international connectivity, India is poised to conquer new horizons in the global aviation landscape.

This article is authored by Jaideep Mirchandani, Founder & Chairman, SkyOne FZE. All views are personal.