India needs 1610 new planes over 20 years, Boeing & Airbus eyes Indian growth amid fears of glob

India will need to add more than 1,610 planes worth $224 billion over the next 20 years as demand grows, Airbus SAS estimated. The European planemaker’s global market forecast for 2015-34 says this will include 1,230 new single-aisle aircraft apart from A380 wide body planes and freighter aircraft. According to Joost van der Heijden, vice-president marketing Asia and North America at Airbus, much of this demand will be for single-aisle planes such as Airbus A320neos.

By 2035, the number of Indian cities with over one million monthly air passengers will more than triple from the current four. India’s population is set to surpass China’s by 2025, and according to Oxford Economics, the number of Indian middle class will top 600 million people, more than double that of the US, Heijden said. By 2034, Indian passengers on average will each make four times as many flights as they do today, he said. India has a mere 378 planes flying today.

The latest forecast for India is 300 planes more than last year. Today some 56% of India’s in service fleet are Airbus aircraft operated by most leading Indian carriers. This includes India’s first fuel-efficient Airbus A320neo, the first to be delivered in the Asia region. Rival plane maker Boeing Co. of the US had estimated India would require 1,740 planes by 2034 with a market value of $240 billion.

With 81 million trips, India’s domestic aviation market grew at over 20.3% in 2015—the highest growth rate recorded in the world. India is well on its way to become the third largest aviation market by 2020 says the FICCI-KPMG India Aviation Report 2016, released on Thursday at the prestigious civil aviation exposition in Hyderabad. The report suggests that aspects such as increasing disposable incomes, fall in prices of Aviation Turbine Fuel, increase in tourism, visa reforms, etc. have placed India in a unique position. This is bringing the country closer to achieving its vision of becoming the largest aviation market by 2030.

The civil aviation sector is hugely susceptible to oil price volatility, economic cycles, natural disasters, epidemics and political upheavals. According to the report, the Indian civil aviation industry has exhibited tremendous resilience to the global slowdown and ranks ninth in the global civil aviation market. This is attributed largely to the growing economy, increased competition among airlines, especially among low-cost carriers, modern airports, greater use of technology, foreign direct investment (FDI) and increased emphasis on regional connectivity.

Asked about the confidence in increasing the forecast, Srinivasan Dwarakanath, chief executive officer of Airbus India, said Airbus is looking at a growth trajectory of where India’s 300 million middle class population taking at least one flight a year. Dwarakanath said the current numbers of passengers flying is just 100 million. According to Airbus, in 2014, Indian population takes on average one trip every 14 years.

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