The aggressive increase in the fleet size of airlines is accompanied by rapid expansion of operations. The Indian travel industry is rapidly growing, driven by the middle class.
Indian airlines inducted 112 aircraft in 2023, according to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation. The ministry added that with this, the total number of aircraft in the fleets of scheduled airline operators stood at 771 as on December 31, 2023.
Budget airline Indigo, which has the largest market share in the country, operates the biggest fleet with 342 aircraft as of 2023. This is followed by full-service carrier Air India with 124 aircraft, and Tata’s Vistara with 66 aircraft.
And then there are the airline orders. Air India, which rebranded itself last year post its acquisition by the Tata Group, placed an order for 470 aircraft in 2023. Indigo ordered 500 A320 aircraft last year. India’s newest airline Akasa Air also placed an order of 150 B737-8s this year as part of its expansion plans.
Expansion of Operations: The aggressive increase in the fleet size of airlines is accompanied by rapid expansion of operations. The Indian travel industry is growing rapidly, driven by the middle class, which is young, has funds to travel, and is willing to spend it instead of just saving it.
Furthermore, hybrid and remote working trends allow this population to avoid migrating to metros. Airlines are not only rushing to connect to more tourist destinations, but are also expanding their operations to smaller towns, which are now home to the earning youth that is willing to spend for travel.
Increasing Number of Women Pilots: While the airlines are undertaking rapid expansion driven by the travel boom in India, the country has also noticed a significant uptick in the enrollment of female pilots.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation reported that there was a 22% increase in the number of commercial licenses issued to women pilots in 2023. Currently, women pilots account for about 14% of the total flight crew strength employed by various scheduled and non-scheduled operators.
IHG Set to Expand Presence in Northeast With Holiday Inn Guwahati
IHG Hotels and Resorts is set to establish a Holiday Inn in Guwahati, and the 150-key hotel is slated to open in January 2028. Calling Guwahati, one of the fastest-growing cities in the northeastern part of the country, Sudeep Jain, managing director, South West Asia, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said, the hotel group is keen to leverage the growing demand for trade, commerce and tourism from the Assamese capital.
With this, IHG’s pipeline in India over the next three to five years has reached 45 hotels, equaling the number of hotels that IHG currently operates in the country. This is also in line with the Indian government’s initiatives to boost the tourism potential of Northeast India, a region whose potential has remained relatively untapped so far.
Mahindra Holidays Reports Highest-Ever Standalone Quarterly Performance
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd has reported its highest-ever quarterly performance at a standalone level during the third quarter ending December 31, 2023.
Mahindra Holidays has been actively expanding its portfolio, and in the third quarter, it added 124 keys to bring its total to 5,129 keys. CEO Kavinder Singh said, “Our all-round robust financial performance is reflected in the highest-ever total income, along with improved profit margins on year-on-year basis. Our strategic focus on inventory acceleration continues. Our largest resort, Assonora, Goa expansion has now been completed.”
Iran’s Visa Free Travel for Indians Comes Into Effect
Iran will now start allowing Indian citizens to enter the country without a visa. India is among the 28 countries that have been granted this ease of travel, and the move aims to bring in more footfall to Iran. Notably, this perquisite is only available to Indian travelers arriving in Iran via planes, as those traveling by land would still need to obtain a visa to gain entry.
With this, Iran has become the latest in the line of countries that have introduced ease of travel for Indian citizens. On February 1, Emirates announced its partnership with VFS Global to introduce a pre-approved visa on arrival facility for Indian passport holders who choose to travel to Dubai using the airline.
Apart from this, Malaysia has also allowed visa-free entry to Indian citizens till December 31, 2024. Last year, Thailand also announced its decision to grant visa-free entry to Indian citizens, shortly after Sri Lanka’s decision that allowed Indian travelers to visit the country without needing a visa.
Rajasthan Records 12-Fold Surge in Domestic Visitors Since 2020
Rajasthan has witnessed a 12-fold increase in the number of domestic tourists over the last four years. In 2023, the state saw more than 179 million domestic tourists, significantly up from the over 15 million footfall that Rajasthan had recorded in 2020. The number of foreign tourists has also witnessed a sharp surge post Covid.
The state government is actively working to promote Rajasthan as a premier tourism destination, according to Deputy Chief Minister Diya Kumari. For this, a 100-day action agenda has been shared with the tourism department officials, while a comprehensive strategy is being worked on, which includes enhancing rail, road and air connectivity to the state.
AirAsia Further Boosts India Connectivity
AirAsia has announced the resumption of its direct flight between Visakhapatnam and Kuala Lumpur, a move that had been much-awaited since it is the only airline in Malaysia to provide direct connectivity between the two cities. The carrier will begin the operation of these flights thrice a week starting April 26. According to Group CEO of AirAsia Aviation Group, Bo Lingam, the decision is a core part of AirAsia’s expansion plans.
Notably, the budget airline has also announced three other routes from India to Kuala Lumpur recently. These routes are set to begin this year, with the Trivandrum-Kuala Lumpur flights scheduled to begin in February, Jaipur-Kuala Lumpur sector in April, and Ahmedabad-Kuala Lumpur route in May.