To address the growing demand, airlines are planning to add more than 150 new aircraft in 2024, a 34% increase from last year. However, even with this increase, it may still not be enough to meet the demand, according to an ET report.
It is expected that nearly 200 planes will remain grounded due to engine issues and financial problems at weaker airlines. Ayyappan Rajagopal, the CEO of online travel portal Cleartrip, advises travelers to make all their reservations by March to avoid paying higher prices for flight tickets.
IndiGo, India’s largest airline, currently has 74 aircraft grounded until December. While efforts are being made to increase capacity by extending leases on existing aircraft and leasing new planes in the short term, Gaurav Negi, the CFO, expects airline yields to remain strong for this quarter due to capacity constraints, which will persist for at least the first six months of 2024.
Number of Aircraft Grounded
Deliveries of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft may also be further delayed, adding to the capacity constraints. Aviation consultancy firm CAPA predicts that the risk of overcapacity in the market will be deferred until 2025, as it will take time to restore grounded aircraft into service.
Despite these challenges, travelers who plan their trips in advance can still find good deals. Air India recently launched a sale with economy class fares starting as low as Rs 1,799 for certain domestic routes and Rs 3,899 for overseas destinations. Other airlines, including IndiGo and Vistara, have also introduced similar offers.
According to an executive from a low-cost airline, sale offers are launched to fill up planes during weak sale periods and to ensure forward sales. Forward bookings are currently looking extremely strong, indicating a shift in travel behavior.
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Rajagopal of Cleartrip is of the view that more people are opting for short breaks instead of longer vacations, which is contributing to the overall strong demand. This summer, flight occupancy is expected to reach a record high.