The 26-year-old Biotechnology student Lightson Ngashangva, still remembers the long train journeys followed by interminable bus rides each summer when we went New Delhi to his village in the remote, northeast.
Now, when this Biotechnology student visits his home to Manipur State, his three-day-long journey by train and bus has been reduced to four-hour flight.
India has proved that it’s the fastest growing air travel ticket market. This happened because of the fastest economy and expanding Middle-class seats. The growth of the passengers is increasing, as it’s 20 percent more than the last year. Moreover, airlines announce flights to new destinations almost in every week.
But yet, Indian Airlines are in distress. The explosion in the air travel of the past decade has happened despite major hurdles in the form of high jet fuel prices, lack of aircraft maintenance and the choked airports working behind the capacities.
Regardless of the huge problems, the Indian market has continued to draw new players and also several foreign airlines have entered into the market. It was found that, out of 1.2 billion populations, only 70 million Indians fly on domestic routes in a year.
Air travel in India shows double digit growth and it will continue till the next 10 to 15 years, said Kapil Kaul, regional head of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.
India’s biggest and most profitable airline, Indigo had ordered 250 new A320neo aircraft in a whopping $26.6 billion deal. However, Jet Airways had agreed to an $8 billion deal to buy 75 Boeing 737 aircraft.
The purchases are in line with Boeing’s forecast and it expects the demand for 1,740 planes in India for the next 20 years, at an estimated price of $250 billion. Out of which, most of the planes will be for fleet expansion and the rest of it will replace older aircraft.
This rapid growth in the industry is for helping millions of Indians to travels long distances to their country’s far northeast or Deep South. Indigo was the first private budget airline flight that travel to the northeast, starting flights were in 2006 in an area where epic train and bus journey would be the possibilities.
Ngashangva mentioned that many airline flights have started in my hometown. The competition between the airlines means tickets are getting cheaper.
Despite such hurdles, the third largest aviation market by 2020 is the Indian market. The domestic air passengers are expected to jump from the current 70 million to 300 million by 2022, and in 2017 they would jump to 500 million.
However, some problems remain! Aviation experts say that the policies remain unclear under the existing condition on Airlines in India, which is known as ‘5/20 rule’. It means that the government will not allow flying internationally until they have completed five years of operation and have at least 20 aircraft. This decision by the government has made the aviation experts disappointed.
As newer airlines have entered the market, the hiring standards of the pilots, including their hours of experiences in flying has been weakened. High demand for pilots with their adequate flying techniques has led to corrupt practices. The shortage of pilots has also given them enormous power which led to a lack of discipline when it comes to fighting schedules.
‘Must say, above all, it’s the time-saved’, said Lisa James, an interior designer who from the southernmost state of Kerala. She also says that ‘Flying saves so much money and time’.