The passenger airline business is booming in India. The number of commercial aircraft is estimated to grow to more than 500 from the current 270 over the next five years. New airlines like Kingfisher, Indigo, Spice Jet, Go Air and Air Deccan are expanding their fleet.
A few months ago, American aircraft manufacturer Boeing decided to set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Nagpur with a $100 million investment. Now, it’s the turn of European Airbus Industrie to follow suit. It has approached the state government to set up a similar facility near Nagpur.
Boeing had earlier said its investment in Nagpur would come on the back of a joint venture with Air India. It is seen as Boeing’s commitment to plough back part of the money it makes by selling 68 aircraft to AI.
The rush to invest in Nagpur was triggered by civil aviation minister Praful Patel’s plan to convert the Orange City, the geographic centre of India, into an international cargo hub. As a first step, he initiated a plan to build an airport for cargo operations.
Cargo carriers are expected to get another shot in the arm when the many special economic zones (SEZs) that have been proposed go on stream. It is expected that aircrafts dedicated exclusively to cargo will go up to 550 in the near future from the current 10-15.
Besides, big business houses have announced their plans to enter the organised retail business where logistics are crucial and cargo crafts will be in demand. It is believed that this is the reason Reliance is in the market for anywhere between 50 and 100 aircrafts to power its retail business.