The domestic air traffic in India is expected to reach pre-COVID level by the end of this year, said Boeing India President Salil Gupte on Thursday. “We expect the domestic demand to recover in India first to 2019 levels probably by late this year. The international air traffic (in India) will return to the pre COVID-19 pandemic levels by 2023,” he said at a press conference.
“Overall, the demand in India will return to its baseline growth rate and double by 2030,” Gupte mentioned. Scheduled domestic flight services were suspended in India during March 25-May 24 period last year due to the lockdown. Currently, Indian carriers are permitted to operate maximum 80 per cent of pre-COVID domestic flights.
Scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23 last year due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. However, special international passenger flights have been operating in India under the Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral air bubble arrangements formed between India and other countries since July. Gupte said during the conference that Boeing is working with each regulator and each customer airline globally to bring Boeing 737 Max aircraft back to service.
“We are in touch with the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to ensure they have all the information required for this to happen,” he added. On March 13, 2019, all Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded in India by the country’s aviation regulator DGCA after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane on March 10 near Addis Ababa, wherein 157 people were killed, including four Indians. Most of the regulators around the world had suspended Max aircraft in the first half of 2019.
SpiceJet is the only airline in India who has Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet. On Wednesday, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave the green light to Max aircraft. US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had given the green light to Max in November last year.