India’s aviation potential is immense; exciting time for the sector: Skyscanner’s Hugh Aitken

One of the critical challenges faced by the country’s aviation sector is airport infrastructure, says Hugh Aitken, VP Strategic relations and Development at Skyscanner. He shares that the airport capacity constraints are a common issue in rapidly growing markets however, India is tackling this head-on.

As the world sets the sight on India, the country is steadily positioning itself as a formidable force in global aviation. According to Hugh Aitken, VP Strategic relations and Development at Skyscanner, India’s aviation potential is immense. During his exclusive chat with T3, Aitken stresses that with a vast landmass and a population exceeding 1.4 billion, the country is ripe for aviation expansion.

He asserts that with strong economy, a sustained growth along with stable environment and national airlines giving huge aircraft orders, India’s growth graph is satisfactory. “Indian airlines are not just expanding their domestic reach but also making significant strides on the international front. IndiGo’s recent massive aircraft order signals its global growth story, while Air India’s incredible journey, reflect the dynamic nature of the aviation sector” he highlights.

“Major airlines are also increasing their frequencies to Indian cities, signaling strong demand for connectivity. Global airlines like Cathay and others are recognising India’s potential as a key travel hub,” mentions Aitken.

Aitken also points out that there are several factors that are converging to create favourable conditions for travel from India with markets opening to travel post pandemic. “The easing of visa regulations and the introduction of visa-free travel for certain markets are significant steps towards making India more accessible. Additionally, competitive pricing and the introduction of new destinations play a major role,” he adds.

High smartphone penetration is another advantage, providing seamless access to travel information and services, which distinguishes India from other emerging markets. “Overall, it is an exciting time for India’s aviation sector,” Aitken says, reiterating strong economic conditions, increased travel opportunities and expanding international connectivity as key driving factors.

One of the critical challenges faced by the country’s aviation sector is airport infrastructure, Aitken highlights, while citing his recent discussions during the CAPA Aviation Summit held in Delhi. As he notes, airport capacity constraints are a common issue in rapidly growing markets. However, he acknowledges that India is tackling this head-on. “There are positive developments, such as the construction of new airports in Delhi and other regions, indicating ongoing infrastructure improvements, though these take time to materialise,” shares Aitken.

India, now the fastest-growing aviation market, is also gearing up to host the 81st International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting in 2025 in Delhi, with IndiGo as the host. This significant event will catalyse discussions on the industry’s future and India’s pivotal role within it.

The meeting will also provide a platform to strategise improvements in airport infrastructure, regulatory frameworks, and innovation. As India continues to develop its aviation infrastructure leveraging the events of this stature while enhancing the airline capabilities, its position as an aviation powerhouse will only strengthen, as Aitken also emphasises.

Notably, for Skyscanner, India has grown to one of top five markets. Detailed interview with more insights to follow soon.