India climbs to fourth spot in 2016 global air traffic rankings

With 131 million departures in 2016, a 20% year-on-year rise, India closes in on Japan in global air traffic rankings, says IATA


Domestic traffic grew at about 23% while international passenger traffic was at 10%, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Photo: HT
Domestic traffic grew at about 23% while international passenger traffic was at 10%, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Photo: HT

New Delhi: India jumped four spots in as many years in global air traffic rankings, data from International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows. 

“India has jumped...to #4 ranking with 131 million departures in 2016 and with stellar growth of 20.0% yoy (year on year), continues to close in fast on Japan,” IATA said in reply to a query on Friday. 

India was at the eighth spot in 2013 with 86 million departing passengers. It moved to number seven with 94 million passengers in 2014 and number six in 2015 with 109 million. 

The 2016 growth was among the strongest in recent years on the back of lower fares, economic growth and expansion by local airlines that have a fleet of 450 planes and over 800 planes on order.

Domestic traffic grew at about 23% while international passenger traffic was at 10%, according to Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). 

There were an estimated 3.8 billion air passenger departures globally in 2016, IATA noted, and over 3.5 billion departures in 2015.

US led the ranking with 815 million passengers, of which under 500 million were domestic, about 100 million international and the rest were connecting passengers.

China was next with nearly 490 million passengers, of which about 400 were domestic—four times the size of India’s domestic traffic. Japan had 141 million passengers, of which about 100 million were domestic.

India had 131 million passengers, of which nearly 100 million were domestic. 

Besides India, Indonesia was the other “big mover on this year’s rankings,” IATA said.

Indonesia moved up two positions this year, to No. 6, with 116 million passenger departures, a growth rate of 12.9%.

The government expects the domestic airlines’ fleet size to double over the next decade.

A new scheme introduced by the government this year called Udan is likely to boost regional connectivity. The first flight under this regional scheme is expected to be launched this month. 

Air India, IndiGo, GoAir, SpiceJet, Vistara and AirAsia India have said they plan to expand their fleet size this year as well. Air India and SpiceJet are also participating in the Udan scheme.

“Growth is helped by additional capacity offered on the market, additional frequencies- some of which are attributed to new entrants, lower fares offered due to sparring carriers trying to gain market share at the expense of others, and finally to a healthy economy, thriving, helped by a more dynamic government than those in the past,” said former Jet Airways chief executive officer Steve Forte, “It all translates to a recipe for success, hoping it will continue in the near future.”

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