India has a population equal in size to China. However it isn’t nearly as significant economically or geopolitically. It hasn’t experienced China’s growth. India’s economy is about one fifth the size. And even on a purchasing power parity basis the average Indian is about 60% poorer than the average resident of China.
They don’t think they need foreign flights to improve commerce and bring down costs. They’d rather protect their homegrown oligarchs.
In the early 1990s, facing a debt crisis and stagnant economy, India partially liberalized, doing away with many business licensing and protectionist regimes. They nearly doubled economic growth, from a low base, and averted national bankruptcy.
However the lesson of the early 90s seems to have been forgotten under Prime Minister Modi, as exemplified by India’s decision not to allow foreign airlines to add more flights.
India dampened foreign airline hopes for more access to its airports on Tuesday, with its aviation minister urging domestic carriers to fly long-haul and help establish new hubs as it seeks to recapture control of Indian travel from foreign rivals.
…India was not looking at increasing air traffic quotas with Gulf states and instead wanted Indian carriers to offer non-stop long haul flights on larger planes. He said Air India’s widebody plane order and IndiGo’s twin-aisles to some destinations were signs that “transition” had begun.
Perhaps Ironically Named Gateway Of India, Mumbai
According to India’s Minister of Civil Aviation, he has determined that the country must have “a hub within India” and not just on its Eastern and Western borders, and goes so far as to describe airline operations as “my” hubs rather than those of the airlines, suggesting the role the Indian state expects to play in aviation despite having privatized Air India. It also seems like an odd take considering Delhi isn’t on one of the country’s borders.
Air India has placed one of the largest aircraft orders in history buying planes over several years that represent several points of India’s GDP in a single year. And they aim to protect India’s largest conglomerate, Tata Group.
- More flights, especially from Emirates and also other Gulf carriers, would bring more choices to Indian consumers, increase competition, and lower fares.
- More seats in the market would mean more travel in and out of India, which is good for commerce and tourism. It would also support more cargo (trade).
- It would make it easier for Indian citizens, who are poor, to travel. It would make it easier to obtain foreign employment and send remittances home.
Along every conceivable dimension, more flights from more airlines benefits the Indian economy and its people generally. The owners of domestic Indian airlines do not benefit, and politicians who depend on them for support and favors do not.