Airlines anticipate record travel this summer

NEW DELHI : Indian airlines are hopeful of a bumper summer season on the back of continuous rise in demand despite high fares.

“February and March are the weakest months of the year and see this period (of 2023)… yields are high. I predict record yield and traffic in the summer,” Chairman and Managing Director SpiceJet Ajay Singh said at the CAPA India Aviation Summit.

Airlines were united in their opinion that the demand in Indian aviation market continues to be high even during a lean travel season and despite increase in air fares.

IndiGo, the largest airline in the country, said that it is in “a good spot.”

“We will be double the current size (300 aircraft) by the end of this decade. We are embarking on the next level of growth,” Chief Executive Officer Pieter Elbers said.

Air India Express, part of Air India umbrella, also has similar plans and is optimistic of enormous growth over the next 3-5 years on the back of the narrow-body aircraft that are part of the mammoth 470 firm aircraft orders placed by the Tata Group for the Air India group airlines.

The surge in demand, however, is not meeting sufficient capacity due to several factors including supply chain constraints and shortage of pilots, especially for wide-body aircraft.

Air India, which has been witnessing several flights cancellations for North America, has decided to reduce weekly flights to the region by six flights a week from the current count of 47 over the next 2-3 months.

While limited capacity often leads to surge in air fares, Singh said that it is an anomaly that the demand is not tapering off despite rise in air fares.

“Today the demand is tremendous. We found that you increase fares and the load factor is still 95%, on some days the load factor is even 96-97%. There is fantastic potential,” Singh said.

India’s youngest airline Akasa Air, which has already inducted 19 aircraft within seven months of operations, also believes in the long-term growth story of India.

“Akasa Air was launched because of the long-term opportunity in India. We saw the potential of having a well-managed professionally owned and managed airline,” Akasa Air Founder and CEO Vinay Dube said.

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