Fight of Indian Aviation
Aviation is witnessing a sea change in India, as is evident in the slew of policy initiatives and the blooming of the no frills segment. Travel World reigned together some of the industry's finest minds to arrive on a perspective for the uncharted future. Civil aviation minister Praful Patel's reform of domestic aviation has completely changed the picture of aviation in the country.
The development of some of the 400 airports in the country enlisting private participation was a right step in speeding up the evolution of commercial aviation in India. As much as 2,400 additional flights adding up to half a million seats from December to March speaks volume of what liberalisation of the sector can do. The verdict on the birth and subsequent maturity of low cost carriers (LCC) still has its jury out. The low-cost carrier (LCC) phenomenon continues to rule the skies, as India's full service carriers find it increasingly difficult to hold-fast on their share of the domestic market.
Hence the question, what will be the role of national carriers in such a scenario? Fleet expansion, network augmentation and addition of a new brand will be the answer to take on increased competition. While the battle between Indian Airlines and Air Deccan over the second largest domestic carrier's slot intensifies, new low-cost entrants have cornered almost 15% additional market share between January and June 2006. Even in the international segment, the LCCs are increasingly gaining a chunk of the pie.
The market share of full service carriers has come down from 76.4% in January to 60.3% in June. Indian Airlines' market share fell from 25% to 21.8%. Air Deccan's share has gone up from 13.3% in January to 20.3% in June, a marked rise of 7% within six months. Analysts feel Air Deccan's share has grown because the company connects smaller towns with ATR aircraft where larger Airbus-A320s and Boeing-737s cannot land, thereby providing the airline some exclusive routes.
According to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) Indian Subcontinent & Middle East CEO Kapil Kaul, the LCCs are going to corner 50% market share within the next two years. "As per CAPA projections, low cost carriers will dominate with 60-70% share of the market. Full service carriers would have to equally serve both international and national markets to remain relevant in a five year scenario," he said.
Besides Air Deccan, another LCC Spice Jet, has increased its market share from 6% to 8% during the first six months of 2006. Kingfisher Airlines' market share have shown a slight improvement at 8%.
In the international sector, the international low cost carriers - Air India Express, Jetstar Asia, Jazeera Airways - have increased their market share from an insignificant number to 5-7% of the market.
Domestic air travel in India is predicted to grow 20 per cent over the next five years. Boeing has raised its 20-year market forecast for India for aircraft purchases from US$ 25 billion to US$ 35 billion. Both Airbus and Boeing are waiting for the next big order, expected from Air India. The airline is evaluating medium and large capacity aircraft and is expected to order 50 wide-body jets, worth almost US$ 5 billion at list prices.