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India needs more long-haul planes: Union aviation minister

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Jyotiraditya Scindia

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Hyderabad: Indian Civil Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia asked Indian airline companies to increase the number of long-haul flights in order to expand overseas flights, citing the increasing demand in air travel after the pandemic, Reuters reported.

Addressing an air show in Hyderabad, Scindia said that it is expected that domestic passenger numbers will go higher than pre-pandemic levels within one year.

At the moment, foreign airlines are dominating international routes to and from India, which according to experts, is because of the lack of widebody, long-haul flights in Indian companies. Along with narrow-bodied domestic flights, India must increase widebody flights since the current numbers are not enough to connect the world to India.

The aviation market in India is dominated by the narrowbody low-cost planes of airlines like IndiGo. Indian airline companies had operated more than 550 narrowbody planes but only less than 60 widebodies in 2019.

In India, only two airlines, Air India and Vistara, fly long-haul carriers. The bulk of the passengers is using Middle Eastern, European and other carriers.

Indian airline companies have a small share of the international market, and this is because of the lack of enough numbers of wide-bodied aircraft, according to Remi Maillard, president and managing director at Airbus for India and South Asia. However, he added he expects massive growth in long-haul travel in the coming decade. India would require 2,210 new planes to meet its growing air travel demands over the next two decades, and 440 should be widebodies.

In India, Boeing Co dominates the widebody market.

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