Boeing Co. expects India’s air passenger traffic to double from pre-pandemic levels by 2030 even as any imminent travel recovery looks to be thwarted by a second Covid wave in the South Asian nation.
“Although the Covid-19 pandemic sharply reduced Indian air travel last year, the country’s domestic passenger traffic is recovering more rapidly than in most other countries and regions, recently reaching 76% of pre-pandemic levels,” the jet manufacturer said in a statement Wednesday. “While Covid-19 remains a near-term challenge, the country’s passenger traffic is forecast to outpace global growth.”
An aggressive second wave of coronavirus infections in India has shuttered businesses once again and sent some cities back into lockdown. And airlines and tourism operators may face a prolonged recovery due to the nation’s slow vaccine roll out, which at this rate will take 2.4 years to cover 75% of the population with a two-dose jab.
According to Boeing’s 2020-2039 commercial market outlook, domestic demand will be the first to bounce back to 2019 levels through 2021, while international traffic will recover by 2023. A growing economy and expanding middle class in India, home to world’s third-largest air-passenger market, will aid the aviation recovery and fuel demand for more than 2,200 new jets worth nearly $320 billion over the next 20 years, Boeing said.
“Many more Indians will travel by airplane for leisure and business as incomes rise tied to industrialization and an economic growth rate in South Asia that leads all emerging markets,” said David Schulte, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ managing director of regional marketing. “With greater demand for domestic, regional and long-haul travel, we anticipate India’s commercial fleet will grow fourfold by 2039.”
Indian carriers have opportunities for growth in international markets, according to Boeing. Several have started or plan to start non-stop routes between India and North America to serve a passenger preference for direct service flights, Schulte said.
To meet future demand for long-haul connectivity, especially to North America and Europe, Boeing forecasts a market for 260 new wide-body airplanes such as the 787 Dreamliner. Carriers in the South Asian nation are expected to need 1,960 new single-aisle airplanes over the next 20 years.
India air cargo, meanwhile, will grow 6.3% annually over the coming two decades, driven by the country’s rising manufacturing and e-commerce sectors.