Air passengers grow by 22pc in India

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, June 28:

Low-cost airlines have brought air travel within the reach of the Indian middle class, leading to a 22 per cent rise in passenger traffic during fiscal 2004-05 that ended on March 31, a new study stated. The number of air travellers rose to 59.2 million from 48.7 million in the previous fiscal, an Assocham Eco Pulse (AEP) study released today stated. Also, international traffic grew by 17 per cent thanks to India’s open skies policy, the study stated. “The new low-cost Indian carriers have generated a burst of activities in the Indian aviation industry on the passenger traffic and aircraft acquisition front since they have made air travel accessible to many middle class Indians,” said Mahendra K Sanghi, president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), while releasing the study. “The innovative and aggressive tariff structure by new airlines like Air Deccan, Kingfisher Airlines and SpiceJet will see continuing increase in the number of people flying,” he added. The entry of new airlines has led to a price war situation, forcing existing and well-established carriers like Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Sahara to unveil various promotional schemes. Some domestic carriers have been allowed to fly on international routes and in the process, the industry has recorded impressive growth.

“It goes to the credit of the aviation industry that it has shown this kind of growth despite infrastructure bottlenecks at the airports,” said Sanghi, “The open skies policy saw a rise in international passenger traffic from 1.65 million in November 2004 to 1.76 million in March 2005,” the study said. December 2004 witnessed the highest international and domestic

passenger traffic at 1.9 million and 3.9 million respectively, with the total traffic during the month in India rising by 25 per cent to 5.8 million. An increase in the numbers of international tourists on domestic routes also contributed to the growth of domestic passenger traffic. The growth in traffic is seeing airlines embarking on an aircraft acquisition spree. Domestic Indian carriers were among the biggest purchasers at the just-concluded Paris Air Show, committing

$13 billion on 150 aircraft. Heading the list was new entrant Indigo with an order for 100 single-aisle Airbus A-320s valued at $6 billion, while Kingfisher Airlines ordered five A-380 super-jumbos, five A-350s and five A-330s in a deal worth $3 billion.