India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and one of the fasts growing aviation markets. Pre-covid the Indian subcontinent was experiencing continuous year on year passenger number growth. Although it must be said that most growth was domestic market centred. So in this post we’ll be looking more in detail to which are India’s main airlines and their main focus.
The Big 2 Full Service Airlines in India
Although India sheer size and population are daunting, the country is home to only 2 full service airlines. This reflects significantly how demand is still focused towards domestic flights and very little towards overseas connections. In 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, the split between domestic and international passengers flown was 75% to 25%.
The big two players in the full service segment of the Indian aviation market are:
- Air India
The latter filled the void left by Jet Airways’ bankruptcy. These are the only two full service, airlines and the only two to fly scheduled flights outside of Asia.
Vistara, which is a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, is gradually expanding its reach with routes towards Europe’s highest demand destinations.
However both these airlines have extremely fierce competition on the domestic flight market, where budget carriers are very aggressive on pricing.
The Huge Budget Airline Market
Moving away from the 2 full service airlines we move into the extremely dynamic and cutthroat segment of India’s low-cost airlines. The airlines cater specifically to a large chunk of the population with they no frills, cheap and on time flights approach.
These are the country’s low cost airlines ordered by fleet size:
- IndiGo (273 Planes)
- SpiceJet (68 Planes)
- GoFirst (54 Planes)
- AirAsia India (28 Planes)
- Akasa Air (8 Planes)
Just to give you an idea of how big the first airline of the list, IndiGo, is its’ fleet of 273 planes is almost twice as big as Air india and all its subsidiaries put together.
Three of these 5 airlines operate both domestic and international flights: IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoFirst. However none of these push themselves beyond the middle east.
AirAsia India instead complements AirAsia’s network serving as a connection for domestic flights and doesn’t operate internationally. Last of all AkasaAir was just recently founded in the summer of 2022. Akasa Air also only operates domestically.