Centre has no plans to regulate airfares: Jyotiraditya Scindia
Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Wednesday said that the Centre has no plans to regulate airfares while also adding that the "market has to play itself out." The minister was responding to a question regarding whether the cut-throat competition between airlines in the country is bringing down flight fares benefiting the customer but in turn, affecting the financially-stressed airlines.
India broke its 4.3 million daily fliers record
India again broke its daily fliers record when it crossed the 4.3 million mark on December 24. Speaking about the growing aviation market in India, Scindia pointed out that passengers and airlines both currently stand to benefit from the game of "volume". "After 20 years, we have a new entrant (Akasa Air) in a sector known for companies that shut shop," he emphasized.
Major reasons behind India's 15% growth in 2022
The minister spoke about the two major reasons behind a 15% growth in 2022 compared to 2019, the year right before the global COVID-19 pandemic. As per him, one is "the desire" of individuals to travel, and the other is the growth "in terms of airlines increasing fleet size and the number of airports increasing."
'Number of airports to cross 200-mark in next 4-5 years'
Scindia also said the number of airports in India has increased to 146 from 74 airports in 2013-14. He further added that the anticipation is that in the next four to five years, it'll cross 200.
Are Indian airports ready for more fliers?
While the growing number of fliers is good news for the aviation industry, are the country's airports ready to operate under such a rush? Earlier this month, many passengers complained about the long check-in lines at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. During the holiday season, airports have been reporting a lot of rush, but Scindia suggested a solution to the problem.
Scindia shares strategy to de-congest airports
Regarding the pressures on current airports, Scindia said, "Growth brings tremendous demands." He added that the capacity of new and old airports in the six metro cities would go up to 420 million a year from 192 million in the next four to five years. To de-congest airports, he suggested scheduling flights more spread out and increasing the capacity to handle security checks.
India's air traffic getting back to pre-COVID level
After being hit by the pandemic, air traffic is picking up the pace to reach the pre-COVID level of over 4 lakh passengers per day. On November 27, domestic airlines flew 4,09,831 passengers on 2,739 flights. This was also the highest passenger count since the coronavirus pandemic. Amid the pandemic, scheduled domestic flight services were called off on March 25, 2020, for two months.