Airlines to increase fleet by 25% in a year as passenger number rises
Indian airlines will add about 150 aircraft during the next 12 months, which will be the highest fleet addition in recent times
India’s airlines will grow their fleet capacity by nearly 25% during the next 12 months, which will help feed rising passenger numbers and fill the void created by Go First’s grounding, data sourced from various airlines showed on Tuesday.
Airlines will add about 150 aircraft during the next 12 months, which will be the highest fleet addition in recent times. The previous highest was 72 aircraft added in FY20. According to the data available, Indian airlines have around 600 operational aircraft, excluding over 150 planes grounded for several reasons, including engine issues, and the Go First fleet. Among airlines, Air India will add 92 aircraft during the year, followed by IndiGo at 35. Akasa Air will add 18 aircraft during the period.
“From October 2023 to October next year, Air India group will add 92 aircraft, of which 42 will be by Air India alone and the rest will be by its subsidiary AI Express,” Campbell Wilson, chairman and managing director (MD) of Air India, said in an interview. Air India currently has an operational fleet size of 120 aircraft.
Officials from the country’s largest airline IndiGo, which currently has 334 planes in its fleet, have maintained that it aims to add one aircraft every week. “IndiGo aims to add one aircraft every week in 2024, starting January, however, since some leased aircraft will be returned, the net addition will be around 35 next year,” an airline official said.
Similarly, India’s newest airline, Akasa, got the delivery of its 20th aircraft in August this year. Airline officials said that the company is set to get two aircraft deliveries this month.
Asked about the number of aircraft it plans to induct next year, an airline official said, “The airline will induct 18 aircraft to its fleet from January to December next year.”
Aviation consultancy firm CAPA India recently said Indian carriers have at least 150 aircraft that are grounded, which will cross 200 by the end of March 2024.
A 25% addition in fleet will help recover losses and also the decline in capacity due to the grounding of Go First from May this year and will be in sync with the double-digit passenger growth being registered by the aviation industry. However, analysts say that the grounding of planes, mainly of IndiGo, due to engine issues will be a major challenge.
Pricing and fares have been a point of concern for travellers. Airfares are affected by many factors, most important being the increase in demand on certain routes and a rise in cost of operations. Despite high fares, domestic traffic hit a record of 459,526 passengers carried on November 20.
However, they said that the net addition of aircraft in the calendar year will be around 35,
thereby qualifying for international flight operations. The airline is expected to commence its international operations soon
Analysts say that the addition is not enough and fares will continue to remain high.
Some experts remain sceptical about the capacity situation.
Mark Martin, head of Martin Consultancy, said, “We need at least 300 aircraft so that the industry is able to function without any hiccups. The actual grounding of aircraft across the airlines currently stands at 250 and not the numbers that are being claimed by the airlines. Adding 150 aircraft will not at all cater to the growing passenger numbers. Airfares too will severely go up, ultimately causing trouble for passengers.”
The travel industry, however, feels that the induction will fuel demand. “The growth in the increasing passenger demand has led to this and it also drives the decision to induct more aircraft and open many more routes. There has been a significant surge in passenger demand and as the president of TAAI (Travel Agents Association of India), we are hopeful that this trend of increased demand will continue in the latter part of the year as well,” Jyoti Mayal, president of TAAI, said.
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