An Assocham-Ernst and Young study suggests that India is one of the 'least penetrated' markets for air travel in South Asia. The study says that on an average, 1,000 Indians take 20 air trips a year. India's air penetration levels are lower than its neighbours Sri Lanka and Pakistan, whose average air travel levels are both around 30. The corresponding figure is 60 for China and 2,300 for the US.
Assocham says the basic reason for this is "absence of proper infrastructure", including airports, air traffic control and navigational facilities. The study shows that 40 per cent of passenger traffic in India is concentrated in Delhi and Mumbai.
While the top five airports in India account for over 70 per cent of traffic and the top 25 account for almost 95 per cent of the traffic. This is despite the fact that India has more than 400 airports, of which less than 100 are in regular use.
A small country like Malaysia, with about 2 per cent of India's population, flies more passengers per annum than India does. Even countries with poorer GDPs such as Ethiopia and Nigeria have higher average air travel levels than India.
Assocham has suggested that if India wants its air penetration to improve, it would have to put in sound infrastructure facilities in place for both national and international tourists and increase the number of its aircraft fleet from 250 to about 1,000 in a decade.