By Staff Correspondent
As global aviation grapples with post-pandemic recovery, India’s skies tell a different story. Aditya Ghosh, co-founder of Akasa Air, paints a picture of an industry on the cusp of a renaissance, driven by the untapped potential of tier 2 and 3 cities.
The Changing Landscape Of Air Traffic
The 19th Motilal Oswal Annual Global Investor Conference saw Ghosh shed light on the evolving dynamics of India’s air traffic. Gone are the days when the Delhi-Mumbai route dominated the skies. Today, tier 2 and 3 cities are emerging as significant contributors, accounting for a third of the nation’s air traffic. “The consumer’s origin is undergoing a transformation,” Ghosh observed.
This shift is broader than a few regions. Ghosh emphasised the secular nature of this change, with demand surging across the country. “Every state is witnessing this upswing. Earlier, a state would have one major airport; now, multiple cities within states are becoming aviation hubs,” he elaborated.
India’s Aviation: A Market Yet To Peak?
Despite the evident growth, Ghosh is quick to point out that India’s aviation market remains ripe for expansion. Drawing a stark comparison, he highlighted, “Even in 2023, the entirety of India’s aviation sector doesn’t match up to the fleet size of Southwest Airlines.” CAPA’s data corroborates this, with India having 701 aeroplanes in service to Southwest’s 803 as of June 2023.
However, the winds of change are seemingly blowing. Indian aviation companies have placed orders for over 1,000 aircraft, signalling aggressive expansion plans.
The Economy & Aviation: Growing Hand In Hand
Ghosh’s optimism is not limited to numbers. He sees a deeper connection between India’s economic aspirations and the aviation sector’s growth. Responding to concerns about high-interest rates potentially dampening air travel, Ghosh was sanguine. “Air traffic and economic growth in emerging economies like India are intertwined. As India aspires to a $5 trillion economy, the aviation sector stands to gain significantly,” he opined.
Akasa’s Business Blueprint
Akasa Air’s strategies mirror Ghosh’s bullish outlook. The airline’s recent fleet expansion, with the acquisition of 72 aircraft and more in the pipeline, is a testament to its growth trajectory. But for Ghosh and his team, it is not just about numbers. The airline’s ethos revolves around efficiency, unparalleled customer service, and competitive pricing.
Ghosh’s ambitions for Akasa Air are not confined to domestic shores. With the Boeing 737 MAX 8-200 now part of Akasa’s fleet, the airline is setting its sights on international markets, targeting regions like the SAARC nations, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
A People-Centric Approach
In an industry marked by its volatility, Akasa Air is making significant strides in employee retention. The airline has undertaken pilot salary revisions twice this year, reflecting its commitment to its workforce. “Our people are our strength. In an ever-evolving industry, retaining talent is paramount,” Ghosh remarked.
Akasa’s CEO, Vinay Dube, encapsulated the airline’s vision, emphasising a harmonious blend of growth aspirations and grounded strategies. “We’re not just in the business of flying planes; we’re in the business of fulfilling aspirations, connecting dreams, and building the future of Indian aviation,” Dube stated. As Akasa Air charts its course, it embodies the broader narrative of India’s aviation sector – one of promise, potential, and a sky full of possibilities.