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Sabre highlighted the market's growth potential. But it is contingent on the government's commitment to the aviation sector, including a $12 billion investment.

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Despite significantly higher airfares, domestic bookings in India surpassed pre-pandemic levels in March, while international travel reached 99.5 percent, according to travel technology provider Sabre’s booking data. Sabre expects international travel capacity to exceed pre-pandemic levels by the second quarter.

Sabre acknowledges that domestic travel witnessed a boom during and post the pandemic, and it also attributes the increase in domestic traffic to improved connectivity and the rise of low-cost carriers in the country. Domestic capacity for low-cost carriers has been recorded at more than 110 percent of 2019 levels in the first three months of 2023. In the first quarter of 2019 low-cost carriers flew 23.2 million travelers on domestic routes, while this number went up by 14 percent to 26.5 million in 2023. And even as low-cost carriers abound, domestic fares are 24.5 percent more than pre-pandemic prices as of February 2023.

Significant investments in the Indian tourism industry are expected to increase and support capacity requirements for domestic and international travel. As India plans to increase the number of airports from 148 to 220 by 2025, the government has announced a $12 billion investment for aviation infrastructure upgrades to support capacity increments India is also refurbishing and developing nearly 100 airports, under the Revival of unserved and under-served airports program, aimed at making air travel more affordable and accessible, while further supporting an increase in capacity, especially for domestic travel. And then there are the major plane orders by Air India, Akasa Air and Indigo, expected to result in close to 1,200 more aircraft for Indian carriers over the next 24 months.

Sabre data suggests that average international fares from India are 41.3 percent more expensive as of February 2023 when compared to pre-pandemic prices. Indicating an increase in the presence of Indian carriers on international routes, Sabre noted that these airlines now serve 42.7 percent of all international routes, an increase from 36 percent pre-pandemic. And this number may further grow considering the fact that the aviation minister was recently quoted as saying that India will not be increasing air traffic quotas for carriers from Gulf states. Home-grown carriers are also expected to grow international routes as the aviation minister also requested Indian carriers to fly more long-haul routes.

Source: Sabre

“What is clear is that India is increasingly making its presence felt on the world travel stage,” said Brett Thorstad, vice president, Sabre Travel Solutions, agency sales, Asia Pacific. “All the indicators, the investment, and the conditions are there for substantial growth over the coming years. What is important now is that all players in the Indian travel ecosystem, and those who want to be players in the marketplace, understand and can harness these opportunities.”

Source: Sabre

Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo has announced codeshare connections to Edinburgh via Istanbul. The airline’s expanding network of codeshare destinations with Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines now connects to 33 destinations in Europe. These new connections will offer travelers more options and easy access to Scotland, bolstering IndiGo’s vision of increasing international connectivity, the airline said in a statement. Through its codeshare arrangement with Turkish Airlines, IndiGo has been adding connections to European destinations over the last few months. Last month, the airline announced codeshare connections to Sofia and Varna in Bulgaria, via Istanbul

Mastercard has partnered with travel and spend management firm Getout System to launch Spends Ecosystem, a software-as-a-service-based platform servicing all stakeholders in business travel. The platform will act as a one-stop shop for travel bookings, payments, and compliances, with in-built digital workflows, budgetary and policy adherences, and simplified accounting and expense management. By addressing challenges of cost, compliance, transparency, data control and regulatory constraints, Spends Ecosystem will enable enterprises of all sizes to maximize the value of their spend and improve their financial health and workflows. It will also automate travel supplier and service provider payments, thereby increasing cash flow and reducing fraud risk for enterprises.

UdChalo — a consumer technology company for the armed forces — has launched Suraksha 2.0, an initiative which aims to financially protect air travelers in case of unforeseen disruptions to their travel schedule. The scheme ensures that flyers receive a 100 percent refund of their ticket price in the event of any disruption caused by the airline, including situations like airline bankruptcy as observed recently with low-cost carrier Go First. “During the Jet Airways crisis in 2019, udChalo was the only travel agent that refunded 100 percent of the money to its customers. After the Jet Airways issue, we launched Suraksha to safeguard the interest of travelers,” said Ravi Kumar, founder and CEO of udChalo.


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Tags: air india, akasa air, aviation, business travel, india, indian airlines, indigo airlines, Mastercard, refunds, sabre, skift india report

Photo credit: Domestic bookings in India surpassed pre-pandemic levels in March. D Mz / pixabay

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