AviationChina’s reopening may be the big story in travel, but no one should take their eyes off India, say aviation experts.

All eyes on China, but India’s star is rising fast

|
India is the “hottest market in the world”, says OAG’s John Grant, driven by strong economic forecasts and the stirring of Air India as an aviation giant.
India is the “hottest market in the world”, says OAG’s John Grant, driven by strong economic forecasts and the stirring of Air India as an aviation giant. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/WONG SZE FEI

China’s reopening may be the big story in travel, but no one should take their eyes off India, said two aviation industry experts.

In a webinar earlier this week, in which travel data and insight specialist OAG asked whether China is the key to unlocking global travel, much of the discussion focused on India’s potential as an outbound travel leader, driven by strong economic forecasts and the stirring of Air India as an aviation giant.

“India is the hottest market in the world right now,” said John Grant, OAG’s chief analyst. “It’s very buoyant compared to other markets around the world.

India is the hottest market in the world right now. It’s very buoyant compared to other markets around the world.– John Grant, chief analyst, OAG

“The strong economy pre-Covid is picking up again, the rebirth of Air India under a new CEO [ex SIA Group executive Campbell Wilson] and big aircraft orders are very exciting for India,” Grant added.

Aviation consultant Willy Boulter, most recently chief commercial officer at India’s Indigo airline, said China’s GDP growth was tailing off coming out of the pandemic while India’s GDP growth of 8%-9% was likely to be sustained over the next few years.

“That GDP growth should translate into 15%-16% air traffic growth, at least domestically,” he said. 

Boulter recalled during his time working at Cathay Pacific it had surprised many of his colleagues that Air India had not grasped the opportunity to become a hub for traffic between Asia and Europe and had allowed Emirates to take that business. 

“It appears that under new owners, Tata, Air India will begin to address that situation,” Boulter added.

Both Grant and Boulter agreed it will take 12 to 18 months for the China outbound market to reach pre-Covid peaks. Slowing the recovery is a cautious approach by airlines to restore capacity into China, and decisions by several countries to maintain Covid measures for incoming Chinese travellers.

There is also a huge backlog of some 54 million passports which would have been issued in China during Covid.

Added to this, airlines are being challenged to quickly restore scheduled services to China when mothballed planes are still being brought back from the desert.

“There’s no big rush to restore capacity to China,” Grant said.

“Japan and South Korea are still very nervous about letting Chinese travellers into the country. There will be a ripple effect with Southeast Asia first to see the return of Chinese travellers, who will make choices based on destinations which offer the fewest restrictions.”

Welcome to PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore

Eco-friendly practices and innovations, thoughtfully integrated at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore, provide sustainable travel experiences for everyone.

Read Now

The Brightest Travel Stars Shine
October - December 2022 eBook

A salute to the top performers across Asia Pacific’s travel industry.

Read Now



JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI