Air India under Tatas can gain international market share, say global airline chiefs

Forum Gandhi | | Updated on: Jun 21, 2022
Most of the growth in the Indian international passenger market is taken by Gulf-based airlines, says Lufthansa

Most of the growth in the Indian international passenger market is taken by Gulf-based airlines, says Lufthansa | Photo Credit: AMIT DAVE

Emirates, Lufthansa bet on the national carrier’s growth under the new leadership

Global airline executives, including Emirates president Tim Clark and Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr, believe that Air India, under the Tata group, has a great opportunity to capture larger share of the international aviation market.

Airline operations in India are difficult, said Clark. However, he was confident that only the Tata Group could make a legacy airline work. “Air India should be as big as United Airlines, because of its domestic market as well as the non-resident Indians (NRIs) abroad and the amount of economic activity that goes in and out of India. It is a goldmine,” Clark said speaking to the media on the sidelines of the 78th annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Doha.

Currently, Air India’s fleet size is one-fifth of United Airlines.

‘If Tatas can’t, nobody can’

For decades, Air India has continued to be a small player on the international scene, he said. “So, it is not easy to operate in the Indian market even though the population is pretty upwardly mobile and getting more mobile over time. So, you need a safe pair of hands with business acumen to be able to activate this (Air India). If Tatas can’t make it work, nobody over there (in India) will be able to make it work,” noted Clark.

India has a huge demand unlike a lot of other countries, he said. When asked how Air India’s rise will affect Emirates, he confidently noted, “As far as Emirates is concerned, well, bring it on, quite honestly. I mean, there is plenty for everybody.”

Regaining market share

Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s Spohr said the takeover of Air India by the Tata Group will benefit Indian passengers. The Lufthansa Group appreciates the Indian government’s idea to make Air India a strong player to regain the Indian international passenger market share, he added.

When asked about the impact on Lufthansa’s India operations, Spohr said, “There is an opportunity for Indian carriers to take a larger share of the Indian market than what has happened in the past. Let’s be honest, most of the growth in the (Indian international passenger) market was taken by the Gulf carriers.”

(The writer is in Doha at the invitation of IATA)

Published on June 21, 2022
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