Tier-II cities such as Ranchi, Surat, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar and Varanasi are driving the aviation growth story in the country, with an impressive rise in passenger traffic in the past year, according to data compiled by the Airports Authority of India.
The 26-percent growth in the domestic aviation sector was largely because of the demand that is being generated from these Tier-II cities and the addition of new routes and services, an AAI official said. The regional connectivity scheme has also aided the rise in traffic, the official added.
Ranchi, for example, has has seen a 90-percent growth in passenger traffic in March this year as compared to the same period last year.
The growth in Surat has been an overwhelming 179 percent, registering 65,373 passenger movements in March as against 23,367 during the month last year, according to the latest AAI data.
Likewise, the passenger growth rate in March has been around 53 percent in Bhubaneswar, 86 percent in Mangalore, over 85 percent in Vijayawada and more than 69 percent in Amritsar.
The growth rate is significantly higher in these cities even in comparison to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai.
While the domestic passenger growth rate for Delhi stood at 18.7 percent, it was 17.8 percent in Mumbai, though both these airports at present are facing a capacity constraint and are unable to meet increasing demand for slots.
Bangalore has seen the highest growth rate of 54.6 percent among the major airports.
Many Indian carriers have embarked on ambitious expansion plans and they have placed orders for over 900 aircraft to be inducted in their fleet the next 10 years.
Capturing the growth in the Indian skies, the International Air Transport Association in its statement in February this year had said India remained the world's fastest growing domestic aviation market for the third straight year in 2017 as economic and network expansion bolstered the sector.
Globally, revenue passenger kilometres – a measure of passenger volumes – rose by 7.6 percent in 2017, registering “above-trend growth” that was ahead of the ten-year average rate of 5.5 percent.