India's rapidly expanding civil aviation sector offers significant opportunities for growth, with the potential for adding 130-150 more wide-body aircraft as airlines expand their operations. GE Aerospace South Asia CEO Vikram Rai highlighted this potential in the world's third-largest aviation market, where domestic airlines have nearly 1,500 aircraft on order.
Rai emphasized that India is a priority market for GE Aerospace and predicted that domestic airlines would likely consider adding more wide-body planes to their fleets, even for dense domestic routes. He sees this as a mutually beneficial scenario for both airlines and the industry.
Currently, India operates approximately 700 commercial planes, with only around 50 of them being wide-body aircraft. Air India possesses 49 wide-body planes, while indigo operates two wet-leased wide-body planes.
Rai pointed out that there will be a need for replacements within the current wide-body fleet, creating room to incorporate 130-150 additional wide-body planes in India. Additionally, the increasing number of international passengers from India bodes well for the wide-body aircraft segment.
With the growing air passenger traffic, the government is actively working on establishing international aviation hubs in India to facilitate direct flights to various overseas destinations. Currently, a majority of passengers flying from India to international destinations rely on connecting flights operated by foreign carriers.
Rai emphasized the importance of enabling end-to-end travel for passengers and mentioned that the civil aviation ministry is advocating for Indian carriers to have more wide-body planes to capture a larger share of the long-haul segment.
Furthermore, Rai highlighted the potential for deploying wide-body planes on densely populated domestic routes to address slot constraints at airports. Similar to markets in Japan and China, where wide-body planes are used for domestic operations, airlines could consider deploying them on routes like Delhi-Mumbai to optimize airport resources.
In light of the growth potential, around 1,100 aircraft powered by GE Aerospace or CFM engines are expected to be delivered in the Indian market over the next eight to nine years. This includes engines for Air India's boeing 787 and Boeing 777X aircraft, as well as LEAP engines for narrow-body aircraft.
Regarding concerns about a possible duopoly in the Indian airline market, Rai suggested that there would always be room for more carriers due to ongoing consolidation. India's vast market size, he noted, would prevent it from becoming a strict duopoly, with ample opportunities for third or fourth carriers to thrive.
This information can benefit students by offering insights into the growth prospects of the aviation industry in India, potential career opportunities in aviation management, and the importance of wide-body aircraft in addressing the country's evolving air travel needs. It also underscores the significance of government initiatives in shaping the future of aviation in India.