IATA and ACI share concern over Indian growth

10 September 2018
Congestion at Indian airports (such as Delhi, pictured) could put the brakes on air traffic growth in the country. Source: Neelam Mathews

The Indian aviation sector faces a dilemma about “how to cope with growth on the supply side”, International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac warned on 4 September during the International Aviation Summit in Delhi.

At the event, co-hosted by the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), IATA, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), de Juniac argued that infrastructure development has not matched the pace of traffic growth. IATA predicts that air travel demand in India will treble to about 500 million passengers by 2037, and about 1,000 aircraft will be delivered to Indian airlines in the next eight years.

“The key is to integrate all aircraft being delivered into the system,” he said, but congestion and infrastructure constraints mean that airports lack slots and parking spaces. “Infrastructure is a key element to accommodating new aircraft. Any plan to boost construction is welcome. Also important is the way they will be built,” de Juniac added.

Greenfield airports such as Navi Mumbai offer potential to bridge the gap – MoCA secretary R N Choubey confirmed that operations there should begin in September 2021 – but de Juniac described the need for more action on greenfield infrastructure.

According to the Airports Council International (ACI), only Vietnam will enjoy faster passenger traffic growth than India for the period 2017–40: 8.5% per year for Vietnam compared with 7.5% for India. While underlying economic factors (such as GDP growth) suggest a strong appetite for air travel among Indians, sluggish airport development could mean that demand is not satisfied. “The scale of current and forecast demand at Indian airports requires significant investment to maintain and enhance infrastructure, as well as passenger service capacity, at an appropriate level of quality,” said ACI director general Angela Gittens.

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