Indian airports handle 254m passengers in 2016

A Monitor Report 16 Mar, 2017  |    -      +
New Delhi : Indian airports handled over 254 million passengers in 2016, an increase of 20 per cent over 2015, a latest passenger statistics from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) confirms. This means that India moves into fifth place in the global rankings, overtaking Ger-many and behind only the US, China, Japan and the UK.

While the US and China are well out of reach, it is possible that India could overtake the UK - whose airports welcomed over 270 million passengers last year - either in 2017 or maybe 2018, and possibly catch Japan by 2020.

Leading the way among Indian airports was New Delhi, which sailed past the 50 million passenger milestone in 2016 and finished the year handling 55.6 million passengers, an increase of 21 per cent compared with 2015.

Of the top 15 airports, 12 grew their passenger volumes by more than 15 per cent, while two - Guwahati and Jaipur - saw growth of more than 30 per cent. With passenger numbers at Bengaluru passing 22 million thanks to growth of 22.5 per cent, local media have reported that there is now consideration being given to re-opening the city's old airport, which was closed when the new airport opened in 2008.

Passenger numbers on domestic routes increased by more than 20 per cent in every month of 2016. In fact the sequence of 20 per cent-plus growth goes back to November 2015. The last time the country achieved such growth across every month was a decade earlier in 2006.

While most Indian airlines roughly maintained their market share of the domestic market across 2016, IndiGo continued to grow its share, reaching a record 42.6 per cent in October, before falling back slightly to 40.3 per cent in December. The airline's increased share appears to have come at the expense primarily of Jet Airways, which saw its share of the domestic market fall from 18.7 per cent in January to 15.3 per cent in December, and Air India, which went from 16.0 per cent to 14.0 per cent during the same period.

The other leading players, SpiceJet and GoAir, both pretty much held steady with around 13 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. Relative newcomers AirAsia India and Vistara both gained a little ground, increasing their domestic shares from around 2 per cent to 3 per cent.

While domestic traffic has been the main driver of growth at India's airports, the contribution of international services should not be overlooked. Although comprising only just over 20 per cent of all traffic, passenger numbers on international services grew by 8.5 per cent last year.

While and Mumbai handle almost half of all the country's international traffic, other airports are growing much faster, though from a much smaller base. In December, Varanasi (+38.6 per cent), Chennai (+36.1 per cent), Gaya (+32.9 per cent), Amritsar (+32.6 per cent) and Jaipur (+30.7 per cent) all reported international traffic growth of more than 30 per cent, well above the national average of 7.7 per cent.

Brussels Airlines will start service to Mumbai from Brussels on March 7 - replacing the Jet Airways service which was dropped last year, while SpiceJet will link Delhi with Bangkok from April 15.