New Delhi: India’s airlines will carry a record number of passengers in 2010, aircraft maker Boeing said forecast Thursday, as it said the worst was over for the sector.
Signs of recovery have emerged with a rise in domestic passenger travel in the final three months of 2009 and two airlines posting quarterly profits, Boeing India president Dinesh Keskar told reporters.
“We went through the deepest recession in the history of aviation but now we believe things are looking up. We believe 2010 will see a record number of passengers flying in India,” he said in New Delhi.
“The worst seems to be over.”
Indian airlines carried a record 44 million passengers in 2009 and Boeing expects that number to increase by eight to 10 percent in this year, Keskar said.
Last month, India’s largest private carrier Jet Airways and SpiceJet reported net profits in the final quarter of 2009 after posting losses in the same period a year earlier.
With India’s economy rebounding, private carriers should post a combined profit of 250-300 million dollars in the fiscal year from April, the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation recently forecast.
But state-run flagship Air India will remain in the red, dragged down by high operational costs and a fall in passengers, the Singapore-based consultancy said.
India’s airline sector -- the fourth-largest globally in terms of domestic passenger numbers -- has been one of the most vibrant symbols of the country’s economic progress.
But it was buffeted by soaring fuel prices and then by the global slump. As times turned tough, savage price wars also undermined the sector.
Keskar said keeping a check on capacity, rising passenger demand and stable fuel prices should help the Indian airline sector recover.
He added US maker Boeing has 85 firm orders for its planes from India, of which it expects to deliver nine aircraft in 2010. The others will be delivered over the next four to five years.
Keskar added that Boeing believes Indian airlines could start placing fresh orders by the end of 2011.
Boeing, which is locked in a battle with European rival Airbus for market share, values India’s civil aviation market at around 20 billion dollars over the next 20 years.