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Air Travel in India - 2024 and beyond

Updated: May 21

Unravelling future to the sky for travelers


Air travel in India 2024 and beyond

In the last couple of decades, India has seen significant evolution in the civil aviation landscape. New airlines, world-class aviation infrastructure, the addition of new routes and airports, and many more. What lies ahead for a common air traveler in the coming time? Will taking the next flight get better, be more cost-effective, or the other way around? This article covers some aspects based on facts and news analysis of air travel in India in 2024 and beyond.


Airports

Before 2005, almost all airports were operated and managed by the Airport Authority of India (AAI). The entry of private players made a significant leap into the upgrading of airports and amenities. AAI is a public-sector undertaking with an annual profit in the range of a few thousand crores. Surely, few airports with large traffic movements contribute to the kitty.


New Airports

In recent years, a large number of new airports have been added, giving people of the respective cities more possibilities for air travel. Many new airports are in pipeline. The modification has improved connectivity between tier II, tier III, and tourist destinations. 


Upgraded Airports

Most of the metro cities and some of the Tier II airports are now managed by private players. It is not difficult to identify them whenever you travel from one of them. You will experience the feeling of a mall in them. These airports usually charge a higher user development fee, making your air ticket more expensive. Also, the shops in these airports have to pay a higher royalty to the airport operator. Vehicle parking charges at these airports are high. None of the airports in India offers an inter-terminal train service for moving from one terminal to another. This service is common at most of the world’s international airports. Passengers are advised at these airports to report 2-3 hours before the flight time. This essentially means passengers will be spending money at the airport on food or other services.


New and upgraded airports will lead to :

  • Improved connectivity

  • Higher usage fee,

  • High food and parking cost


Airlines

Major national airlines such as Air India, Indigo, and Air Vistara are experiencing ongoing financial losses due to various factors. Fares have become unbundled and are steadily increasing. Rising input costs and taxes are prompting airlines to raise their fares further. In addition, the grounding of a significant portion of the fleet due to engine problems and the closure of Go Air have reduced capacity on various routes. The quality of service provided by airlines is declining progressively. Many travel-related services that were previously included as standard before 2010 now require separate payment. 

 

Increased passengers Vs enhanced services

In 2023, domestic passenger traffic in India exceeded 15 crores, marking an increase of over 8% compared to the previous year. It is projected that the domestic aviation market will experience a minimum growth rate of 8-10% over the next fifteen years. Unfortunately, there is a lack of public data regarding passenger spending on airport terminals before boarding and after disembarking. Despite airports' efforts to enhance passenger amenities and grandeur, they are struggling to accommodate the rising influx of passengers.

 

Aircraft shortage versus expanding network

Aircraft shortages are being experienced by airlines worldwide, including Indian carriers such as Air India and Indigo. Indigo is particularly affected by the grounding of Airbus 320s equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines, while Air India is addressing the issue by revamping its fleet through refurbishment of old aircraft, implementing new livery, merging with Air Vistara, among other measures. As a result, the addition of new routes and seats is progressing slowly. It is anticipated that airlines will be able to overcome these challenges within the next 6–18 months. 


Passengers can anticipate the following changes:

  1. An increase in the number of flights on current routes.

  2. Introduction of new routes as airlines bring additional aircraft into service.

  3. Enhanced aesthetics and features in airport terminals.

  4. Spending more at the terminals.

  5. Lengthier queues and wait times.

  6. Steady rise in airfares.

  7. Reduced seat space to accommodate more passengers on each flight.

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