Almost every Indian carrier is expected to order more aircraft in the coming two years for fleet replacement as well as growth, but the next humongous order is anticipated from IndiGo.
Air India’s 470 aircraft deal takes off
“IndiGo has been planning to place a significant order of around 300 aircraft prior to Covid, which was deferred due to the pandemic. This is now likely to proceed and could be even larger than previously envisaged, increasing to around 500 aircraft now,” said the recently released CAPA report titled ‘India: The next growth engine of global aviation’.
Currently, all Indian carriers together operate about 700 aircraft. Some of the global behemoths alone operate a much larger fleet; American Airlines, for instance, operates a fleet of 935 aircraft. But with these mega orders, the coming decade is set to witness a steep climb in India’s aircraft numbers. For India then, preparing for the pace of growth that is expected is critically important.
Air India signed a deal to buy 250 aircraft from Airbus including 40 wide body planes
“Ordering aircraft is arguably a relatively easy task. Far more challenging is to prepare the entire aviation eco-system to be able to absorb these aircraft,” it said. The industry should not be caught off-guard by the influx of capacity as happened around 2005 to 2008 when aircraft were grounded due to a shortage of crew or around 2014 to 2019 when sustained year-on-year growth of close to 20% challenged the entire aviation system.
“There will be a need to align policy, regulation, availability of skills, knowledge development, infrastructure, which includes airports as well as airspace, competition and consumer interests, with global best practices,” it said.
Manpower shortage–pilots, engineers, technicians, air traffic controllers apart from technocrats for various civil aviation regulatory bodies and security agencies, that is—would be another challenge. Airlines have begun bracing for the climb. “Air India, for instance, has commenced a project to create a training academy,” said an aviation source, adding that the airline is talking to various potential partners. Air India’s 470-aircraft delivery schedule will commence this year and end in 2032.