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India clocks 21 pc passenger traffic growth in 2015: Boeing

MUMBAI,V. GEETANATH: Low fuel prices, Rupee exchange rate and rising passenger traffic are continuing to take the airlines towards the profit route in the country, especially with the domestic passenger traffic peaking at 80 million last year (2015). It was a steep 21 per cent more than the previous year of 2014 with 66.4 million passenger traffic, said Boeing-India president Dinesh Keskar.

Boeing Commercial Airplane Senior Vice President Dinesh Keskar seen with lartest 737-Max aircraft model after briefing journalists about the current commercial Airplanes market in India and Boeing's latest 787-Dreamliner and 777-x products during A press conference at 5th edition of India Aviation Airshow 2016 underway Begumpet airport in Hyderabad on Thursday. -Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

Boeing Commercial Airplane Senior Vice President Dinesh Keskar seen with lartest 737-Max aircraft model after briefing journalists about the current commercial Airplanes market in India and Boeing’s latest 787-Dreamliner and 777-x products during A press conference at 5th edition of India Aviation Airshow 2016 underway Begumpet airport in Hyderabad on Thursday. -Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

“No where else in the world has there been such a high traffic growth. We expect 1740 aircrafts to be needed for the next two decades at an estimated cost of US$ 240 billion,” he attested, during a media interaction on the second day of the Fifth India Aviation 2016 here at the Begumpet airport.

In terms of capacity being added with more flights rather than increased number of seats per flight, the country growth has seen 12.6 per cent last year when the rest of the world it was just 6.6 per cent.

Calling for a “fare discipline” for the industry to maintain its profit curve, Mr. Keskar said efforts should also on by keeping the operating costs down considering that the landing and navigation costs were growing in proportion.

Fuel prices down by 53 pc

While fuel prices had declined by 53 per cent in the last couple of years, Indian operators continues to pay 50 per cent more fuel when compared to US carriers. Landing costs were favourable as against Europe and equal to rest of Asia Pacific; and more with regard to North and South America, he pointed out.

To the Boeings range of 777 / 747 / 787 / 737s, the new 737max with claims of ‘fuel efficiency, quieter and cleaner’ has notched more than 3,000 bookings and deliveries are expected next year, while the new 777max deliveries are slated for 2020, equipped with better passenger amenities, refurbished cockpit, advanced engines, et al.

The firm has also built and handed over a Maintenance, Repair and Operations unit at Nagpur to Air India as part of its “commitment to India” to handle two 777 (wide bodied) and six 737s with provision for a major component overhaul shop, he added.

Wide bodied aircraft

Are wide bodied aircraft the future for India? Yes, says Airbus. No, says Boeing. These contrasting stands came to the fore in the back to back press conferences by both the aircraft manufacturers at the ongoing Fifth India Aviation 2016 at the Begumpet airport.

While top honchos of the Airbus – Joost Van Der Heijden, vice president, marketing, South Asia and North America and Dwarkanath Srinivasan, president, Airbus Division, India, were quite gung ho about the prospects of wide-bodied aircraft including their own A330 / A350 / A380, they expect the need to be about 380 in the next couple of decades in comparison to the 1230 new single aisle.

Their explanation was the Indian market was expanding and the number of Indian cities with over one million monthly air passengers would be increasing from the current four to 14, hence the demand would be there considering the Indian air traffic growing at 8.4 per cent over the next two decades as against 4.6 per cent globally.

The duo, in fact, saw a seven-fold increase in demand for the wide. However, their optimism was not shared by Dinesh Keskar, vice-president, Boeing – India, few minutes before. Pointing out that the single aisle aircraft have a market share of 84 per cent, he does not see the scene shifting much the years ahead.

To buttress, he said the Airbus has not been able to sell a single giant A380 for the Indian operators till date. “I don’t see a requirement for A380 for the Indian market in the next 20 years. We need airplanes with seats capacity of 250-500 seats for regional operations,” he said.