India's air passenger traffic grows 22 percent

By agencies   |   Tuesday, 28 June 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Low-cost airlines have brought air travel within the reach of the Indian middle class, leading to a 22 percent rise in passenger traffic during fiscal 2004-05 that ended March 31, a new study said.

The number of air travelers rose to 59.2 million from 48.7 million in the previous fiscal, an Assocham Eco Pulse (AEP) study released on Tuesday stated.

Also, international traffic grew 17 percent thanks to India's open skies policy, the study said.

"The new low-cost Indian carriers have generated a burst of activities in the Indian aviation industry on the passenger traffic and aircraft acquisition front since they have made air travel accessible to many middle class Indians," said Mahendra K Sanghi, president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), while releasing the study.

"The innovative and aggressive tariff structure by new airlines like Air Deccan, Kingfisher Airlines and SpiceJet will see continuing increase in the number of people flying," he added.

The entry of new airlines has led to a price war situation, forcing existing and well-established carriers like Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Sahara to unveil various promotional schemes.

Some domestic carriers have been allowed to fly on international routes and in the process; the industry has recorded impressive growth.

"It goes to the credit of the aviation industry that it has shown this kind of growth despite infrastructure bottlenecks at the airports," said Sanghi.

"The open skies policy saw a rise in international passenger traffic from 1.65 million in November 2004 to 1.76 million in March 2005," the study said.

December 2004 witnessed the highest international and domestic passenger traffic at 1.9 million and 3.9 million respectively, with the total traffic during the month in India rising 25 percent to 5.8 million.

An increase in the numbers of international tourists on domestic routes also contributed to the growth of domestic passenger traffic.

The growth in traffic is seeing airlines embarking on an aircraft acquisition spree. Domestic Indian carriers were among the biggest purchasers at the just-concluded Paris Air Show, committing $13 billion dollar on 150 aircraft.

Heading the list was new entrant Indigo with an order for 100 single-aisle Airbus A-320s valued at $6 billion, while Kingfisher Airlines ordered five A-380 super-jumbos, five A-350s and five A-330s in a deal worth $3 billion.

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