In the next two decades, Indian carriers are expected to spend $330 billion in buying new commercial aircraft. In addition, they will spend $110 billion for other aviation services, including ground, station, and cargo operations, along with maintenance and engineering.

The forecast is part of Boeing’s annual India Commercial Market Outlook that was released in the capital last week. The numbers were revealed by Darren Hulst, deputy vice president of commercial marketing for Seattle-based The Boeing Company. “It is impressive to witness the passenger growth in India. This market continues to be one of the fastest-growing in the world with domestic air traffic tripling in the last decade and international air traffic more than doubling,” Hulst said.

Currently, the Indian airline industry has roughly 600 aircraft in its fleet. But, according to the Boeing forecast, the sector is expected to add 2,380 aircraft in the next 20 years to cater to a growing tribe of Indians who can afford air travel. “We see tremendous potential for even more growth, as India’s middle class expands and more consumers are able to fly,” Hulst said.

Some of the new planes are expected to replace ageing aircraft, though most of them are expected to ply on new services. Boeing expects by 2038, the Indian fleet would have expanded to 2,500 aircraft—more than four times the current number; and the airline industry would be worth $770 billion by then.

Much of the Indian demand for aircraft has come from low-cost carriers, which has expanded sixfold in the last decade. Going forward, these carriers will continue to dictate the kind of aircraft that are expected to be added to the fleet.

Low-cost carriers generally prefer narrow-bodied aircraft. Typically, narrow-bodied aircraft are those with single-aisles, which are used in flying shorter distances, while wide-bodied aircraft are used in long-haul flights or on routes that attract high traffic and therefore, fill up seats easily.

In India, single-aisle aircraft dominate the business and in future, such aircraft are expected to dominate, too. Boeing estimates that demand for single-aisles will lead the demand for airplane deliveries—comprising 87% of all new airplanes—to meet the requirement for domestic network connections and service to new airports. Wide-bodied airplanes will make up the remaining 13% of new airplane deliveries, helping enable new long-range flights.

“The vast majority of these aircraft, as we no doubt expect, would be single-aisle fleets, 737-sized aircraft. It will make up for 85-90% of the deliveries in the marketplace," Hulst explained.

Between 2013 and 2018, the number of weekly flights in India increased from 2,022 to 4,501, signifying strong network growth. Also, the number of airports served in India has increased from 96 in 2013 to 111 in 2018, he said.

Beyond India, the global commercial net fleet is expected to double in size by 2038, as airlines will need 44,000 new airplanes valued at $6.8 trillion, and the demand for aviation services is expected to top $9 trillion, Boeing said.

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