India Becomes Third-Largest Domestic Aviation Market – India Report

Skift Take

There is an overall push in India to enhance air connectivity to smaller regions across the country. An increase in number of airports, increase in disposable income, and heightened interest in travel have given airlines the confidence to invest in expansion of their domestic operations. This is leading to Indians traveling more, domestically and internationally.

India is now the third-largest domestic aviation market, after the U.S. and China, according to data by aviation analytics firm OAG. In April 2024, India’s domestic airline capacity was about 15.6 million, up from 8 million in April 2014. 

Over the past decade, the Indian domestic market grew at an annual rate of 6.9%. The firm studied India, China, U.S., Indonesia, and Brazil, and India is the fastest-growing market, it said. 

Factors for India’s Growth: Low-cost carriers accounted for 78.4% of the domestic airline capacity in India in the month of April, the highest of the five markets that OAG studied. 

“The LCC sector has been key to driving growth in India’s domestic market. In the last 10 years IndiGo has almost doubled their market share, from 32% of capacity in 2014 to 62% today. Whilst the rest of the market has barely grown, averaging just 0.7% a year, IndiGo has a domestic capacity growth rate of 13.9% annually,” the firm said. 

The Air India group accounts for 28% of the capacity. “This means that India’s two largest carriers account for 9 out of 10 airline seats,” OAG said. 

Both IndiGo and Air India are expanding their operations and upgrading their fleets. Last year, IndiGo placed an order for 500 narrowbody aircraft, while Air India ordered 470 aircraft last year. 

The Indian Aviation Industry: The Indian aviation industry has been growing as new airports are coming up. Between 2014 and 2023, the number of airports in the country doubled from 74 to 149. India’s domestic air passenger traffic during 2023-24 financial year surpassed pre-Covid levels and increased 13% compared to the year before. 

The aviation industry in India is underserved. However, the annual passenger capacity at Indian airports is set to increase by 60 million.

India Gets Trusted Traveler Program at Airports to Fast Track Immigration

The Indian government has inaugurated the ‘Fast Track Immigration – Trusted Traveller Program’ (FCI-TTP) to quicken the process of immigration for Indian citizens and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders by allowing them to scan their boarding passes and passports, and undergo biometrics authentication themselves. According to the plan, the program will also eventually cover foreign travelers.

To implement the program, e-gates or automated border gates have been installed to minimize human intervention in the immigration clearing process at 7 major Indian airports, including Delhi. FCI-TTP is being implemented through an online portal, requiring applicants to register online with their details and documents to be verified.

Ease of travel is quickly becoming a focal point for airlines and airports. Last week, the Delhi international airport installed self-service baggage quick drop machines across terminals 1 and 3 to facilitate faster baggage check-ins within 30 seconds. 

Earlier this month, former national carrier Air India announced its partnership with Delhi Metro and Delhi airport to facilitate check-in and baggage drop for international passengers at the New Delhi and Shivaji Stadium metro stations. 

The Mumbai international airport also created a digital gateway solution to expand its DigiYatra and non-DigiYatra facility to 68 e-gates for quicker airport entry process for passengers. It is also working to deploy 118 e-gates at the Pre-embarkation Security Check (PESC) area at Terminal 2 to simplify passenger movement.

ITC Hotels Signs Two Storii Resorts in Rajasthan

ITC Hotels has signed two Storii resorts in Rajasthan’s Jaipur and Jawai cities. Last month, the company signed a Storii property in Jaisalmer. With this, the brand’s portfolio in Rajasthan has reached 3 properties. Both 52-key Storii Jaipur and 15-key Storii Jawai are expected to open next year. 

ITC’s Storii brand focuses on boutique premium properties that are small in size.

The company has been expanding its Storii brand portfolio. Earlier this year, it signed a Storii property in Rishikesh. In May last year, ITC signed 3 hotels under Storii – in Goa, Manali, and Prayagraj. 

Over the past two years, ITC Hotels opened 22 new properties in India. It is looking to add 70 hotels to its portfolio in the next five years.

Air India Express Partners With Zoomcar

Low-cost carrier Air India Express has partnered with car rental company Zoomcar. The partnership aims to provide the airline’s passengers with the option of self-drive car rentals for travel across multiple cities in India. 

The facility will be available to Air India Express flyers in 19 cities across India, and they will be able to book the service on the airline’s app and website.

Air India Express is in the process of being merged with sister low-cost airline AIX Connect, previously known as AirAsia India. Amid this, it is enhancing its services and expanding its operations. Earlier this month, the airline announced that it will be commencing operations from the Hindon airport in the national capital region (NCR), in addition to its ongoing operations from the Delhi airport, becoming the first airline to operate from two airports in the NCR.

IndiGo Launches Booking Assistant 6Eskai on WhatsApp

Budget airline IndiGo has launched its AI-powered conversational booking assistant 6Eskai on WhatsApp. The service will allow customers to book tickets, check-in, generate boarding passes, check their flight status, and get their queries answered using the chatbot.

Initially, the service has English, Hindi, and Tamil language support. 

IndiGo is India’s largest airline in terms of market share, accounting for more than 60% of the passengers carried in the month of May. So far this year, it has carried over 40 million flyers, and is looking to enhance its offerings. 

The airline announced its decision to introduce business class to its in-flight cabin classes. It also added a hotel booking option to its website and mobile app to provide customers with a one-stop solution.

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