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DELHI: September 04, 2018. An IATA report released this week to coincide with the International Aviation Summit in Delhi, says the Indian outbound air cargo market rose 16.9 percent in 2017 to top one million tonnes, with the UAE its largest overall cargo market (30 percent) and Ethiopia its fastest growing (114 percent).

Delhi and Mumbai are India’s largest cargo hubs while Mumbai and Chennai are the fastest growing (+18.1 percent and +17.2 percent respectively).

Delhi summitIATA says roughly 41 percent of India’s direct international connectivity is to the Middle East—much of it to the “super-connector” hubs in the UAE and Qatar.

Speaking on a panel (right) that included the CEOs of KLM, Kenya Airways, Spicejet and Jet Airways, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said as he expected the country to be the third largest air transport market by 2026, his airline was determined to expand its market presence from the current level of 102 flights a week to 13 destinations.

Report author IATA chief economist Brian Pearce noted that while India appears to have “considerably less” international city pairs than either China or Russia - up from 230 in 2008 to 304 this year – the proximity to connector hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha make up for it.

“The bulk of international traffic is to the Middle East and Asian destinations, with these two markets accounting for around 70 percent of the total share of international traffic from India in 2017,” he said.

India Cargo trafficOther report findings show 158 million people traveled to, from or within India in 2017; aviation supports 7.5 million jobs directly and indirectly; 7.3 percent of the population took 98 million domestic trips; aviation contributes US$30 billion to annual GDP; adjusting for inflation, average domestic fares have fallen by more than 70 percent since 2005; the number of domestic airport pairs is 700 (a 50 percent increase since 2015); low-cost carriers account for about 70 percent of domestic seats; last year there were approximately 60 million international journeys to and from India; and low-cost operators account for about 25 percent of current international capacity.

Pearce said that with the country’s population expected to reach 1.6 billion and average incomes rising to US$5,000 per capita (a five-fold increase on 2006), the number of ‘middle class’ households should reach 20 percent by 2036.

Of the 359 million additional passengers expected to fly by that date, IATA forecasts 228 million will be on domestic routes and 131 million will be connecting internationally.

"Meeting the significant growth potential of Indian aviation will also create challenges for the airlines, industry partners and policymakers,” Pearce noted. “For example, this will require the right type of infrastructure at the right time and in the right place. Equally, the broader business and policy environment should not place hurdles which inhibit growth and reduce the level of benefits that aviation can deliver to the nation.”

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