India's record breaking aviation growth continues unabated. The International Air Transport Association said the country saw the fourth highest number of passengers taking off in 2016, up two places from the previous year overtaking UK and Brazil.
India had 13.1 crore passengers taking off -including domestic, international and connecting -last year. Globally, IATA says, 380 crore passengers took off last year (half domestic, 35% international and 15% connecting), up from 350 crore in 2015. The top three markets -US, China and Japan -remained unchanged but there was a shakeup below with India a part of this upheaval.
The big movers on this year's rankings are the key emerging markets of India and Indonesia. India has jumped up two places to the fourth ranking with 13.1 crore departures in 2016 and, with growth of 20% year-on-year, continues to close in fast on Japan. Just three years ago India held the eighth ranking. Indonesia also moved up two positions in 2016, to the sixth spot.
At this rate, India will so on be at the third spot in terms of number of passengers taking-off by overtaking Japan. In total passenger terms, India saw 15.2 crore passengers flying in 2016, with 9.9 crore flying within the country and 5.3 internationally. IATA's take-off numbers are at 13.1 crore as it include 9.9 crore domestic flyers, 2.7 crore people flying out of India and only a part of the 2.6 crore international flyers coming to India, who took off to take more flights last year.
However, the growth is coming amid an infra crunch -especially at busy metro airports -that is getting worse by the day due to the over 20% rise in traffic that India has been witnessing on a month-on-month basis for almost two years now .Air traffic congestion has made hovering common at Delhi and Mumbai. These two airports hardly have any free slots available for new flights, with Mumbai completely choked.
The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation had recently said India had become the third largest domestic air travel market globally with more people flying here within the country last year than Japan, pushing the “land of the rising sun“ to number four spot. India's 9.9 crore domestic flyers in 2016 were more than the 9.7 crore in Japan.