Aerospace company Boeing expects domestic air travel in India to reach pre-COVID levels this year, while international air traffic will reach the same in 2023.
The recovery in air travel in India amidst the pandemic has been much speedier than in other markets, Boeing India President Salil Gupte said. "Our customers are cautiously optimistic about demand recovery."
The imposition of a nationwide lockdown in late-March last year to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections had brought the aviation industry to a standstill. The government has since then allowed gradual resumption of flight services. The airlines are currently allowed to operate at 80 per cent of their capacity.
Gupte said visits to friends and relatives will drive the growth in domestic traffic in India, while business travel is also expected to return back before other markets.
"Passengers are returning to fly again. India has seen its air cargo market on narrow body aircraft explode during the pandemic with the carriage of vaccines and PPEs. Additionally, growth of e-commerce here is also contributing to the growth in air cargo market and this trend will continue," he said.
On getting its 737 Max aircraft to fly again, Gupte said, the company is in talks with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and is providing the aviation regulator all the details required.
Boeing's 737 Max aircraft were grounded across the world after two fatal air crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Earlier this week, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency had cleared 737 Max aircraft to fly again. The Federal Aviation Administration of US had given the clearance to the aircraft for commercial operations in November last year.
In India, SpiceJet has 13 such aircraft in its fleet.