As Indian airlines continue to expand, both in terms of fleet and routes, the country must start to focus on aviation infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of passengers.
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Indian carriers now have the second-largest order book for new planes, with over a 6 percent share of the industry backlog, behind only the U.S., according to a recent Barclays report. Budget carrier IndiGo’s aircraft order for 500 Airbus A320neo family planes – likely worth $50 billion – has eclipsed Air India’s 470 aircraft order made in February. When added to IndiGo’s substantial backlog totaling 480 jets, questions will arise whether the Indian market can accommodate this number of aircraft, noted IBA, an aviation market intelligence company and consultancy.
Meanwhile, Akasa Air, India’s newest airline, is reportedly in talks with U.S. aircraft maker Boeing to place a small follow-on order for 737 Max single-aisle jets if it can lock down financing. Boeing is working to finalize negotiations as soon as this week at the Paris event, according to people familiar with the matter. Akasa may order 10 or fewer aircraft, one of the people said.
In another development, Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation has approved Vistara and IndiGo airlines to operate new international flights from August. The regulator approved Vistara’s international flight between Delhi and Bali from August 1, and IndiGo’s international flight between Delhi and Tbilisi in Georgia from August 7. Last week, it had granted permission to IndiGo to operate its flight services to Nairobi in Kenya from July 24, marking the airline’s first foray into the African region.
Additionally, India is working to resolve discrepancies between global aircraft leasing rules and its national bankruptcy laws, the country’s aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal told Reuters on the sidelines of the ongoing Paris Air Show. A resolution could help lessors to cash-strapped airline Go First reclaim their planes and fly them out of the country after the carrier filed for bankruptcy protection in May, a move that resulted in a freeze on all its assets, including the jets. The freeze came even though some lessors had already terminated leases and placed requests with the aviation regulator to repossess dozens of planes prior to granting of bankruptcy protection.
Hilton Debuts in NCR
Hilton has announced the signing of Hilton Sohna Resort & Spa, marking the debut of its flagship brand in the Delhi-National Capital Region. This marks Hilton’s second hotel and management agreement with the Dangayach Group, following the recent landmark signing of the country’s first Waldorf Astoria in Jaipur in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Scheduled to open in 2026, the 165-key resort will feature 105 palace rooms and 60 villas.
The Sohna property will also add the third full-service brand to Hilton’s current footprint in the region besides the DoubleTree by Hilton Baani Square and DoubleTree by Hilton Gurgaon. Hilton plans to announce 10 deals by the end of this year.
Italian Cruise Line Deploys 23 New Cruises in India
Italian cruise line Costa Cruises has confirmed a total of 23 new sailings in India from November 4, 2023 to January 1, 2024, marking the beginning of a maiden cruise service by an international cruise company. Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal launched the program in the Mumbai, Cochin, Goa and Lakshadweep circuit.
Costa Serena has a total of 1,500 cabins, 505 of which have private balconies and 14 passenger decks. It also features a wellness center and a gym with a sea view, a beauty salon, a theater, restaurants serving Indian and international cuisine, bars, four swimming pools and a kids’ club for children and teenagers, the ports ministry said in a statement. Early this month, India flagged off its maiden international cruise ship from Chennai to Sri Lanka.
Sayaji Hotels Debuts in Udaipur
India-based luxury hospitality brand Sayaji Hotels has announced the opening of a 50-room Enrise by Sayaji, Udaipur, its first hotel in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Last month, the company launched a 36-room Enrise by Sayaji, Hardain Madhya Pradesh, marking its sixth hotel in the central state. With 24 properties currently operational, the group plans to add 50 hotels to its portfolio in the next two years. In April, Sayaji also launched a 63-room Effotel by Sayaji in Bhopal-Hoshangabad Road in the state and a 54-room Effotel Sarola in Pune in the western state of Maharashtra in May. Sayaji has three flagship brands — Sayaji Hotels, Effotel by Sayaji and Enrise by Sayaji.
Pratt & Whitney, Awiros Launch AI-Based Jet Engine Inspection Tool
Aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney, in collaboration with India-based deep tech startup Awiros, has launched Percept — an advanced Artificial Intelligence-based aircraft engine analysis tool. Percept is a computer vision product that operates on top of the Awiros video intelligence operating system. Its cloud-based interface allows users to capture images and videos of aircraft engines on their mobile devices and receive real-time responses on parts availability. This helps enable faster and cost-efficient turnaround of leased engine assets. Instead of an inspector having to examine an engine and check part-by-part, Percept automates this inspection, and reduces time taken by nearly 90 percent.
Low-cost carrier IndiGo switched suppliers from Pratt & Whitney to GE-Safran venture CFM International about four years ago following issues with engines’ durability. Last month, another budget airline Go First filed for bankruptcy citing mounting losses due to the grounding of almost half of its aircraft and blamed engine delivery delays by the engine maker.
Hospitality Players Capitalize on $103-Million Opportunity at G20
Indian hospitality players are looking to cash in on a $103-million revenue opportunity arising out of India’s G20 presidency through delegation-related travel and accommodation requirements, while also looking to consolidate the foundation for future growth. With the G20 spurring demand in cities where meetings are scheduled, room rates for five-star hotels in key business cities have increased by about 20 percent since the last quarter of 2022, and the trend is expected to continue in the coming months, Hotel Association of India Vice President K B Kachru said.
The hospitality industry is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate of 5.5 percent as there is a visible impact in the increase in hotel occupancies and revenues, added Kachru, who is also Chairman Emeritus and Principal Advisor of South Asia at Radisson Hotel Group.
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Photo credit: India's airlines set news records for aircraft orders. abhirupsen_haldia / Flights line up as day dawns on New Delhi Domestic Terminal