Could The Indian Aviation Industry Have A Speedy Recovery?

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India’s aviation recovery has been sluggish for now, with domestic capacity rising slowly and international flights nascent. However, continuing growth, even with record-high daily cases, and a potential vaccine by the year-end has many excited. So, could Indian aviation have a speedy recovery?

Indian Airlines
The domestic market has nearly recovered to 50% in the last four months. Photo: Getty Images

A strong domestic market

Any speedy recovery of the Indian aviation industry is based on a robust domestic market. There are already signs that we could see this soon, with steady growth in daily passenger numbers. This growth has come even as India clocks around 90,000 COVID cases every day, the highest in the world. Other countries have cut back capacity when a spike in cases occurs. However, Indian aviation has seen no such slowing in growth.

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Delhi Airport Air India
Passenger numbers have continued to grow despite the drastic rise in cases in India. Photo: Getty Images

Over 149,000 passengers took to the skies on Sunday, representing a 50% recovery to last year’s passenger figures. With strong growth during the height of the pandemic, we could see passenger numbers continue to rise if cases drop off.

In the optimistic scenario of a vaccine being available by early 2021, it is likely the domestic market will quickly recover to 2019 levels. This could mean the Indian market makes a speedy domestic recovery. However, a lot has to go right for this to happen, and international flights are a whole other story.

International flights still far away

While domestic flights might be picking up steam, international flights are at just a fraction of pre-pandemic levels. This mainly due to border closures around the world and the potential risks of international flights. However, India has also banned all scheduled international flights, only starting a handful of travel bubbles and operating repatriation flights instead.

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Delhi Airport
India has currently banned all scheduled international flights, only allowing repatriation and travel bubble flights. Photo: Getty Images

Without India lifting its ban on international flights and countries opening up borders, international flights will struggle to recover. The only potential path to a speedy recovery would be a widely-available vaccine, but it would still take at least a year for that to reach a majority of people. For now, a quick recovery for the international market seems unlikely.

India does have advantages

While the recovery might not be as quick as some are hoping, India does have some distinct advantages. The country remains a fast-growing market, with a vast untapped population of potential flyers. Assuming at least some of this growth carries on, India will quickly recover after this pandemic.

Air India, London, Repatriation
India does have some unique advantages coming out of the crisis. Photo: Getty Images

This pandemic has also revealed many new opportunities for airlines and there is room for expansion in the market. While a speedy recovery is on the cards, it will still take at least a year and a vaccine before things start to look normal. Regardless, India is likely to continue growing as an aviation industry in the coming years.

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What do you think about India’s aviation recovery? Can the industry bounce back soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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