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Indian aviation industry aiming to fly out of turbulence

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants India to restart scheduled international flights and end capacity and fare capping in domestic market as these distort competition and hurt consumers.

Indian aviation industry aiming to fly out of turbulence
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Indian aviation industry aiming to fly out of turbulence

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants India to restart scheduled international flights and end capacity and fare capping in domestic market as these distort competition and hurt consumers. According to IATA, the Indian government should take data driven decisions and remove regulations which restrict capacity and access to allow aviation industry to recover quickly.

According to aviation consultancy CAPA, total traffic at Indian airports domestic traffic declined by 61.8 per cent, the fall in international traffic was 84.8 per cent. IATA reckons that air travel in India will be back to 2019 level only by 2024 due to reduction in fleet size and weak financial condition of carriers.

Jet Airways will restart domestic operations by the first quarter of 2022 and short haul international flights by the last quarter of the next year. The plan is to have 50-plus aircraft in three years and 100 plus planes in five years, which also fits perfectly well with the short-term and long-term business plan. Jet Airways has already hired over 150 full time employees on its payroll and are looking to onboard another over 1,000 employees FY22 across categories.

After months of waiting, India has finally begun flights to 49 cities under air bubble arrangements with 18 countries starting this month. According to the latest notification by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, special international flights can be operated by respective airlines under an air-bubble pact between two countries.

As per the official notice, India has decided the air-bubble pacts with at least 18 countries including the United Kingdom, Kenya, Bhutan, France, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

Moreover, passengers are requested to book tickets via the Air India website, travel agents and Air India offices. Below is the list of international cities where passengers can travel in September: Canada-Toronto and Vancouver, Bangladesh-Dhaka, Afghanistan-Kabul, Bahrain-Bahrain, Germany-Frankfurt, Japan-Narita, Russia-Moscow, France-Paris, Sri Lanka-Colombo, UK-London and Birmingham, Nepal-Kathmandu, Kenya-Nairobi, Kuwait-Kuwait, UAE-Dubai and Abu Dhabi, USA-Chicago, Washington, Newark, and San Francisco, Maldives-Male and Oman-Muscat.

However, IndiGo feels It would be impractical to restart scheduled international flights right now and gradually increasing the number of air bubble flights with various countries is the way forward. IndiGo is currently operating around 1,150 flights daily, of which 70-75 are international ones. The rest are domestic services. This process of let's have more and more bubble flights and increasing it slowly is a good graduated way of opening up. Like domestic airlines which started from 33 per cent, went to 50 and then further. This cap has been gradually increased and stands at 72.5 per cent currently.

IndiGo has benefitted from charter flights and has done 1,500 charter flights (passenger and cargo combined) per month. The Indian aviation industry is clearly getting more intense with Spice Jet, and the Tata Group which will probably have Air India, Vistara, and Air Asia India. Akasa backed by ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala aims to start operations by the summer of 2022.

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