WIDE- BODY AIRLINERS FOR INDIAN CARRIERS
The Indian airline industry is expanding, but the number of wide-body airliners has shrunk from 63 out of a total aircraft strength of 614 in 2018 to 43, a development is not in conformity with the global norm in which wide-body aircraft make up 20 per cent of an airline’s fleet. In India, currently, the share of these planes is only seven perc ent, down from over 10 per cent in the beginning of this year. Without these planes, which have more space and can carry more fuel, airlines cannot offer a comfortable experience on medium or long-haul flights or carry a larger number of passengers.
The collapse of Jet Airways has everything to do with the falling number of widebody aircraft. “You cannot have a shrinking wide-body aircraft market in a country where aviation is growing. We see a large opportunity in this space where now we only have Air India operating,” says Vikram Rai, head of GE Aviation in India which has virtual monopoly in the wide-body aircraft engine market. GE and CFM, which is a joint venture with Safran Aircraft Engines, has over 300 narrow-body and 40 wide-body aircraft engines in operation in India. It is a key player with current orders of 800 narrowbody and six wide-body aircraft engines.
The industry needs to add 80 more widebody aircraft to reach the global average. In India, in 2018-19, there were 344 million passengers, of which 68-70 million were outbound, which is 20 per cent, say estimates. Without a sufficient number of such planes for these medium- and long-haul flights, Indian carriers are being displaced by global carriers whose share of outbound international traffic on the medium and long-haul routes is going up.