India Will Need 2,200 Jets Over The Next 20 Years

Boeing has published its Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) for the next two decades this week. The manufacturer expects India to require 2,230 new aircraft by 2039, most of which will be efficient narrowbodies. This would mean expanding India’s overall fleet size by four times, a huge jump and in line with other projections.

Boeing 737 MAX Getty
Boeing expects only 11% of India’s new aircraft to be widebodies, with narrowbodies dominating the market. Photo: Getty Images

Huge growth

In a press briefing this week, Boeing announced its CMO for India for the next 20 years. The outlook helps manufacturers prepare for production capacity and gauge demand for their aircraft in the coming decades. Despite the last year of low traffic, Boeing expects India to return to its growth trajectory quickly.

By 2039, Boeing expects India to take delivery of 2,230 new aircraft and grow the national fleet size by over four times. This is broken down into 1,960 narrowbodies, 260 widebodies, a handful of regional jets. 79% of the aircraft will be brand new, while 21% will be a part of fleet replacement plans. The outlook means that narrowbodies, like the Airbus A320 and 737 MAX, will remain the overwhelming favorites for Indian airlines.

While there might be relatively few widebodies in the next few decades, it does mark a substantial increase for India. Photo: Getty Images

Considering widebodies only make up around 5% of India’s fleet currently (39 aircraft), a jump to 260 planes is substantial. Only two airlines currently operate widebodies in the country, Air India (37 planes – 777, 787, and 747s) and Vistara (two 787s). Boeing also has a monopoly over the widebody fleet in India, an advantage it undoubtedly hopes to keep in the future too.

How many will be Boeing?

While the projections for India’s aircraft demands are enticing, how many of these deliveries will come from Boeing? While the manufacturer dominates widebodies, it lags far behind Airbus in the most important market of narrowbodies. Only three airlines fly the 737 family, SpiceJet (65), Air India Express (24), and Vistara (six).

By comparison, five airlines fly the A320 in India: AirAsia (33), GoAir (54), Vistara (39), Air India (77), and low-cost leader IndiGo (225). Considering Airbus holds over 80% of this massive narrowbody market, Boeing has an uphill climb to grow its market share in the coming decade.

Boeing 737 MAX, Cayman Airways, Ungrounding
Only one airline has the 737 MAX on order in India, with the shutdown of Jet Airways hurting the American manufacturer. Photo: Getty Images

As airlines plan their fleet expansions and renewals, expect Boeing to make a forceful case for airlines to pick the 737 MAX as the narrowbody of choice. The coming decade will tell us more about whether Boeing can recover from its current predicament in the market.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Traffic doubling

To put the fleet growth into perspective, Boeing expects India’s traffic to recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2022. Once a recovery is complete, India will see its traffic double by 2030, a huge expansion for the market. Overall, the market will grow at 5% annually for the next two decades, the highest in the world.

With such growth expected, it’s no wonder why Airbus and Boeing both have such rosy outlooks for the aviation market in India.

What do you think about the future of India’s aviation market? Let us know in the comments!