Over 13.1 crore passengers took off from India’s airports last year – including all domestic, connecting and international flights, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). With this, India has overtaken the aviation markets of Brazil and the UK, but the top three positions are still held by the USA, China, and Japan.
An official IATA release notes that, “The big movers on this year’s rankings are the key emerging markets of India and Indonesia. India has jumped up two places to the fourth ranking with 13.1 crore departures in 2016 and, with growth of 20 per cent year-on-year, continues to close in fast on Japan. Just three years ago India held the eighth ranking.”
The Indian aviation market has taken off to cruise at the 4th spot internationally despite the severe lack of infrastructural facilities at most Indian airports – most notably the Delhi and Mumbai international airports. Indian airports have been witness to month-on-month increases in traffic by up to 20% in some cases. Air traffic congestion has reportedly become a routine part of operations at Delhi airport which rarely has free slots available, and hovering around Mumbai airport is almost guaranteed due to the fact that it is completely congested at almost all times.
In terms of sheer number of domestic travelers, India (9.9 crore) has overtaken Japan (9.7 crore), but the level of sustainability of this position can only be secured through intelligent development of airport infrastructure.