The aviation sector is one of the major economic drivers for prosperity, development and employment in a country. The rapidly expanding aviation sector in India handles about 2.5 billion passengers across the world in a year; moves 45 million tonnes (MT) of cargo through 920 airlines, using 4,200 airports and deploying 27,000 aircraft. Today, 87 foreign airlines fly to and from India and five Indian carriers fly to and fro from 40 countries. Currently, India is the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world. India is expected to be amongst the top five nations in the world in the next 10 years.
An efficient civil aviation sector is important for India as it is inter-linked with other sectors in the economy and generates income and employment through global commerce and tourism, as per a National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) study titled ‘Emirates in India – Assessment of Economic Impact and Regional Benefits’
“India is an exciting market for us. We expect India’s contribution to our global (cargo) revenues to increase from 3.5 per cent to five per cent this fiscal and 10 per cent in the next three to four years,” as per Nick Rhodes, Director Cargo of Cathay Pacific. Clearly, India has the potential to play a much larger role in the air cargo market, especially with international carriers looking at Asia as a major growth driver for their air cargo business.
India will be the fourth biggest market in terms of value for all new aircraft deliveries during the next 20 years, according to aircraft maker Airbus.
The domestic airlines carried 39.82 million passengers during January-August 2012, as against 39.63 million passengers during the corresponding period of previous year, according to data released by the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA). The revenue on the domestic network increased by 33 per cent during April-August 2012 period as compared to the same period last year, presenting an increase of Rs 531 crore (US$ 98.33 million).
The passenger traffic has grown at the rate of 17-18 per cent in the last few years. According to an assessment of the overall outlook of the sector, the fleet of the commercial airlines is expected to touch approximately 1,000 aircraft in 2020, as per Mr Ajit Singh, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Government of India.
The air transport (including air freight) in India has attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) worth US$ 438.39 million from April 2000 to June 2012, as per data released by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
Foreign airlines carry 82 per cent of India’s air cargo traffic, which is projected to grow at 10-12 per cent rate over the next five years.