The Indian aviation industry went through turmoil during the last two years battling pandemic, capacity restrictions and fare limits. 2021 seems to be the year the sector appears to recover. Here is a summary of all the key happenings in the Indian aviation sector.
Air India is expected to be finally handed over to the Tata group in the first quarter of 2022. Tata Group already operates two airlines – Vistara and Air Asia. There are also reports stating that Air India Express, Air India’s wholly-owned subsidiary that operates narrow-body aircraft, will be merged with budget carrier AirAsia India.
Akasa Air, the upcoming airline backed by investor Jhunjhunwala and aviation veterans Aditya Ghosh and Vinay Dube, is slated to launch its commercial operations in August 2022. The airline has already received its no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Indian aviation sector will likely see more competition in the coming year
With Air India’s launch under new management and Akasa Air’s arrival, the Indian aviation sector will likely see more competition in the coming year. Akasa Air targets a low-cost ticketing system, which can disrupt the market in the longer run.
Scheduled international flights have stayed suspended since March 23, 2020. Only the flights between countries with air bubble arrangements are currently operational. India has an air bubble arrangement with nearly 32 countries.
Ministry of Civil Aviation announced resuming international flights from December 15. However, the new scare about the new COVID-19 variant Omicron made the government reconsider the decision. Currently, international flights remain shut till January 31, 2022.
In terms of domestic flights, the Ministry of Civil Aviation removed all seating capacity restrictions on October 18. However, domestic airfares' lower and upper fare limits continue to remain in place.
Boeing received the clearance for its 737 Max planes from all international authorities on the air manufacturer's front. The Indian aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also lifted the ban on the aircraft’s commercial flight operations after 27 months. Boeing 737 Max airlines were suspended worldwide after two fatal accidents held in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 367 people.
With DGCA lifting the ban, Akasa Air has ordered 72 Boeing 737 Max for its commercial operations. SpiceJet is another airline in India with 737 Max planes, 13 of them are currently operational.