By Kamal Shah
In the bustling heart of the Indian subcontinent, a grand battle of the skies is being waged. The key players are two of India’s largest airlines – IndiGo and Air India, both of which are locked in fierce competition for market dominance. Each of these airlines is committing vast resources, making bold strategic moves and leveraging all available opportunities to secure their position in one of the fastest-growing aviation markets globally.
The Indian aviation industry is currently entering a period of substantial growth and transformation, a fact that is not lost on these titans.The recent multi-billion-dollar deal by Air India to purchase 250 planes from Airbus has put other airlines on high alert, particularly IndiGo, which is presently the largest airline in India. The Airbus deal has put pressure on IndiGo to invest in its own fleet and expand its operations. Responding to this pressure, IndiGo is said to be considering an order of up to 500 planes of its own, a move that would signify its intention to maintain a formidable presence in the ever-evolving and competitive Indian market.
The potential order by IndiGo, expected to be split between renowned aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, is a clear reflection of IndiGo’s confidence in the long-term growth of the Indian aviation market. Despite the challenges posed post COVID, IndiGo’s management team remains optimistic about the company’s future prospects. This optimism is not isolated but mirrors a broader sense of confidence in the sector’s future, especially as India’s economy begins to recover and demand for air travel is expected to grow.
This battle for the skies has taken an interesting turn with a resurgent Air India, now readying to merge with another Indian airline, Vistara. Under the new ownership of Tata Sons, one of India’s largest conglomerates, Air India is set to receive a much-needed injection of resources. This includes a record-breaking aircraft order for 470 planes. Air India’s CEO, Campbell Wilson, sees this order as a crucial part of the strategy to harness the expected future opportunities in Indian aviation.
The stage is now set for the Paris Airshow, one of the world’s premier aviation events, where anticipation is running high for both airlines. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has hinted that IndiGo could announce an order for “several hundred” Airbus aircraft at the event. If this happens, it will be a powerful statement from IndiGo, sending a clear message to its competitors about its resolve to retain its market dominance and continue its growth trajectory.
IndiGo’s current market position is enviable. It provides over 35% of all available seat kilometers on flights in and out of India’s airports. Measured by flight frequencies, IndiGo operates almost 48% of all flights across India’s international and domestic markets. However, the recent strategic moves by Air India, backed by the resources of Tata Sons, could pose a significant threat to IndiGo’s position. The competition is indeed heating up.
IndiGo’s potential order for several hundred aircraft would send a strong signal to other airlines about maintaining its market dominance. The latest Airbus India Market Forecast estimates that India will need 2,210 new aircraft by 2040. This suggests a long-term view of the market and a willingness to invest in the future, further solidifying IndiGo’s commitment to growth and dominance in the Indian aviation sector.
The ongoing moves and strategic decisions made by IndiGo in the Indian aviation sector are likely to have a significant impact on the wider economy as the industry evolves to meet changing market conditions. For Air India, the future looks bright. Since its acquisition by Tata Sons and the subsequent merger with Vistara, the airline is set for a resurgence. The massive order of 470 planes is a clear indication of the airline’s ambitions and a sign of the new owners’ willingness to invest heavily in a future that promises robust growth for the Indian aviation industry.
The Paris Air Show, scheduled for June 2023, is the next key event on the horizon where these two airlines may make significant announcements. The airshow, a premier global event for aviation, is a platform where airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and technology companies come together to announce new orders, showcase the latest innovations, and discuss the future of aviation. This year’s event is particularly significant for the Indian aviation sector, as it may host the announcement of IndiGo’s potential order for several hundred planes. If this happens, it could be a game-changer for the Indian aviation market.
As of June 2023, Air India, under the stewardship of Tata Sons, has started to rebuild its brand and reputation. The company is working hard to regain its position as a leading carrier and to compete with IndiGo, which has been the dominant player in the Indian market in recent years. The new owners have high hopes for the airline, and their willingness to invest in the future suggests that they see significant potential for growth in the Indian aviation market.
The Indian aviation market is bracing for exciting times ahead with these two airlines – Air India and IndiGo – leading the way. Their strategic decisions, investments, and potential announcements at the Paris Air Show signal their confidence in the market’s potential. Regardless of the challenges, their plans reflect a shared vision of a future where Indian aviation continues to soar, and they are willing to invest in that vision.