Airbus flypast a record for civil aviation

Air bus neo 330-900 at Aero India 2019 organised by Defence Ministry at Yelahanka Airbase in Bengaluru on Wednesday. Photo by S K Dinesh

For the first time in Aero India history, as an exclusively civil aviation aircraft, the Airbus A330neo-900 took to the skies for a majestic flypast on Wednesday, an intense battle was brewing on the ground: The American Boeing and the European Airbus eyeing to grab the leadership position in India.

The imposing civilian aircraft had everyone awestruck at the Yelahanka Air Base. But for Airbus, with a big image problem after the closure of its prestigious Airbus 380 project, India was too huge and promising market to ignore.

Airbus India President and MD, Anand E Stanley said, “India is poised to be the second largest low-cost airline market in the world, and the third largest domestic market.”

Airbus currently dominates the Indian market with a 70% share of new aircraft orders. Already, about 65% of the country’s airline fleet operate on its platform. Stanley was sure the market had huge potential for sustained growth. “Only 10% of the Indian middle class has flown, and only one per cent has travelled internationally. It is a sign that the best is yet to come,” he said.

The fleet of Indian carriers now includes over 390 Airbus aircraft in-service and more than 525 on order. Showcased at the inaugural flypast, the A330neo-900 was a definite sign of Airbus looking ahead into the future.

Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said: “So far, we have had limited airports, very limited connectivity. But now, we have added more airports, taking the number to 103. In the next 15 years, we will add another 100 airports with an investment of USD 65 billion.” To realise the targets set under ‘Vision 2040,’ India’s requirement has been estimated at 2,300 new planes.

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