The crises at Boeing and Jet Airways has brought India's air traffic growth to a grinding halt

Jet Airways employees hold placards and banners during a protest at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo
  • The growth in India’s air travellers has flat-lined for the first time in over four years.
  • Too many planes got grounded in March 2019 due to the crises at Boeing and Jet Airways.
  • As the number of flights reduced, airfares in India shot through the roof.

India's airlines were betting on a long-period of spectacular growth not very long back. But all those hopes have come crashing down in March as passenger traffic flat-lined last month, for the first time in over four years.

A lot of it has to do with the crises at Boeing and Jet Airways. Airlines across countries, not just in India, had to park their Boeing 737 Max -- a total of 387 planes around the world-- planes after two tragic crashes in less than five months. Both Jet Airways and SpiceJet were affected because they had the 737 Max in their fleet.

In India, cash-strapped Jet Airways kept losing planes to unpaid lessors to a point where the country's oldest private airline had its final take off last week. As the number of flights decreased, airfares in India shot through the roof. Airports in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru have been choked repeatedly. The fall in passenger traffic was inevitable.

The signs of a slowdown were visible in the last few months, the growth rate fell to single digits in January and February 2019, far lower compared to the peak growth of 30% witnessed in 2015-2016.

While local low-cost airlines like IndiGo have cashed in on the crisis at Jet, the choices have been limited for international travellers. There is only one Indian airline, the state-owned Air India, that is serving medium to long-haul destinations like Europe, North America, and Australia. That has meant that other foreign airlines flying to and from India have benefitted from the rising airfares.


As Jet remains grounded, Indian airlines are increasing their fleets to rein in surging ticket prices