Indian aviation hits a snag: Parking space, flight slots are scarce across airports


  • There are approximately 470 aeroplanes in the country as of 2017.
  • This number is projected to triple by the next decade.
  • The country is lagging behind on infrastructural growth that can accommodate new flights and aircrafts.
The Indian aviation industry has hit a snag, the airports are running out of preferred slots and parking space. The lack of flying slots and spaces to park aircrafts is due to the the fact that the airports are super busy and working overtime. What this has lead to, besides flight operators having to fight out for slots and space, is a bottleneck for the country’s growth in aviation.

And this issue is mostly affecting newer airline carriers like Vistara and AirAsia which are rapidly expanding its business but have to deal with ‘undesirable’ slots for their operations.

Since its inception Indian aviation industry has grown significantly. From 381 airplanes in 2008 to approximately 480 in 2017 along with plans to buy more aircrafts to deal with increasing flight demands, the industry’s growth in on an upward curve.

The country is looking at nearly 1080 aeroplanes, out of which, more than 700 are scheduled for delivery within the next decade, and 400 within the next five years. As of June last year, a total of 880 aircrafts were on order, with most of them being placed by low-cost carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet. And this bulk demand as left airport authorities concerned.


While more aircrafts mean more flights and therefore more money coming in for these airline operators, the airports are not adequately equipped to accommodate all the airplanes at the same time. And this leads to the airports only being able to offer slots at ‘undesirable’ hours, time slots that are not very popular with travellers, for newer flights.

The Mumbai and Delhi airports, which are among the busiest in the world, are so packed with flights that they are only offering new slots between 11PM and 5AM. Airports in Goa and Pune are also offering only night slots. Airports in Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata also don't have any slots open during peak timings.

What is making matters worse for domestic carriers is that even smaller airports like Jaipur, Jammu, Srinagar and Patna and many more are facing similar issues and can offer time slots that aren’t popular.

Currently, 97% of the slots on the Mumbai airport are with the older airline carriers. In Delhi and Bengaluru, 89% and 86% are with older airlines respectively. At Chennai and Pune, the share is about 93% and 91% respectively.


Airport congestion is a world-wide phenomenon. But the situation is worse in India. The government has big plans of linking smaller, less-served areas to bigger airports under its regional connectivity programme - and this would just mean more congestion.

Parking space in airports is also a major concern, but the country has already started to address this problem. All airports, excluding Mumbai, have started building parking bays. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has been set in action and plans to add 273 parking bays at 24 airports to help resolve parking issues.

AAI is also trying to increase airside capacity by increasing work efficiency to address this congestion problem.
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