Aviation

Small city routes hold big potential for India airlines

DELHI

The airport in Patna, one of the country’s smaller cities, is so crowded that government authorities this year said they need to build another one.

The airport has seen the number of passengers, and daily flights, double in the last four years as the country’s largest carrier IndiGo Airlines and smaller rivals like GoAir seek to cash in on a surge in demand for air travel from smaller regions to offset losses on highly competitive “trunk” routes linking big cities, reports Economic Times.

“We are close to capacity in our arrivals and departure lounges,” said Santosh Kumar, who runs operations at Patna airport. “We can handle more planes but it is only possible with a bigger terminal. We need a bigger airport.”

Higher disposable incomes, an expanding middle class and rapid urbanisation have made India one of the world’s fastest growing domestic aviation markets, where passenger numbers are expected to grow by more than 75 per cent in the next six years to exceed 217 million.

Much of that growth is expected to come from smaller cities like Patna, where more people are flying for the first time. Passenger numbers from these places have risen nearly 17 per cent a year since 2009, compared to 7.6 per cent from larger hubs, data from industry analysts CAPA – Centre for Aviation show.

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