A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. | Representative Image
The Indian aviation market is leading the global recovery, having reached 76 percent of pre-pandemic levels, whereas the world average is at 58 percent.
The data, aircraft manufacturer Boeing said in its India outlook, is based on traffic till April 5.
"India domestic traffic is quickly approaching early 2020 or 'normal' levels," David Schulte, managing director of Regional Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said on April 7.
At the same time, Schulte agreed that the recent surge in cases in some of the key domestic markets, including Maharashtra and Delhi, need to be tracked for possible impact.
Air travel bookings have taken a 15 percent hit in the last couple of week amid a surge in reported COVID-19 infections and fresh restrictions on travel and business.
Despite the short term worries, the medium and long-term outlook are bright for the Indian aviation market, Boeing said. "India's domestic market is the third largest in the world, with largest 20 year GDP growth forecast," the US giant said. This will fuel demand for more than 2,200 new jets valued at nearly $320 billion over the next 20 years, it added.
After dominating much of the Indian market, Boeing has given way to its arch rival Airbus, which has IndiGo as one of its biggest clients. India's largest airline also has the biggest order book.
The outlook made four main points on the Indian market:
- In India, single-aisle airplanes will continue to serve growth in domestic as well as regional markets. Indian operators will need 1,960 new single-aisle airplanes over the next 20 years.
- To meet long-term demand for long-haul connectivity, especially to North America and Europe, Boeing forecasts a 20-year market for 260 new widebody airplanes.
- India air cargo growth is expected to average 6.3 percent annually over the next 20 years.
- India’s civil aviation industry will require nearly 90,000 new pilots, technicians and cabin crew personnel during the 20-year forecast period, with a growing number of women choosing to pursue aviation careers.
Return of 737 Max
On the return of 737 Max aircraft, which were grounded in 2019 after twin tragedies, Boeing officials said talks are on between the company, industry regulator DGCA and SpiceJet, which is now the only operator of the plane in India.
While Jet Airways had also placed order for 737 Max planes, the airline has been grounded since April 2019.
Boeing officials said that 20 airlines around the world are now operating 182, 737 Max aircraft.