Sky Is The Limit: Indian Civil Aviation Soars As Domestic Carriers Add 133 Planes In 2023, 51 Per Cent Year-On-Year Surge


The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reported Thursday (4 December) that in 2023, domestic airlines increased their fleets by adding 133 planes, a substantial 51 per cent annual growth, as they continued to expand their networks to meet rising passenger demand.

“During the year 2023, the scheduled operators have inducted a total of 112 aircraft in their fleet against 81 aircraft inducted in 2022, which is an increase of 38 per cent.

“Taking into account the 21 wet/damp lease aircraft, the total induction of aircraft stands at 133 as against the corresponding figure of 88 in the previous year 2022, which represents a significant increase of 51 per cent over the previous year, thereby augmenting capacity in a growing aviation market,” the release added.

Dry leasing refers to taking only the aircraft on rent, whereas, wet leasing refers to the leasing of an aircraft to an airline, along with a crew to fly the plane and provide the onboard service.

As of 31 December 2023, DGCA reported a total of 16 Air Operator Certificate holders with a combined fleet of 771 aircraft.

According to the aviation watchdog, the increased induction of planes has helped in achieving the twin outcomes of enhanced network coverage, giving a boost to connectivity and comparatively lower fares during the festive season to the overall benefit of passengers.

970-Unit Order

A bullishness greets the Indian skies, as the world’s third largest civil aviation market ramps up efforts to expand its fleet, with Air India and IndiGo jointly placing orders for 970 planes in the preceding year.

Tata Group that took control of Air India in January 2022 had placed orders for 470 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing at $70 billion in 2023.

The 250-aircraft order from Airbus includes 40 wide-body planes — 20 each of A350-900 and A350-1000 aircraft and 210 narrow-body aircraft — 140 A321neo and 70 A320neo planes. Its Boeing aircraft order for 220 aircraft comprised 190 Boeing 737MAX narrow body planes, 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 10 Boeing 777X.

It may be recalled that Air India has already taken the delivery of the first wide-body A350-900 aircraft in December 2023 and five more are scheduled for deliveries through March 2024.

Similarly, IndiGo has placed order for 500 Airbus A320 Family aircraft. This 500 aircraft order is not only IndiGo’s largest order, but also the largest-ever single aircraft purchase by any airline with Airbus.

Budget carrier Akasa which happens to be India’s newest airline and has a market share of 4 per cent since it started flying in 2022, is also expected to place a three-digit order for aircraft soon.

The DGCA in its release noted that in line with the anticipated increase in aircraft inductions in 2024, it is ”suitably enhancing its regulatory capacity to further speed up the regulatory approvals related to the induction of aircraft.“