Can Indian Airports Boost Profits by Rethinking Non-Aero Revenues?

Abhishek Nayar

29 Jun 2024

India, the world's third-largest domestic civil aviation market, is witnessing rapid growth in air traffic. As airlines expand their fleets and routes, airports are also increasing their capacities. Amidst this growth, there's a significant opportunity for Indian airports to enhance their profitability by focusing on non-aeronautical revenues. According to aviation consultancy firm CAPA India, reviewing pricing strategies and maximizing non-aero revenues can substantially increase airport profitability.

The Potential of Non-Aeronautical Revenues

Non-aeronautical revenues include income from retail, food and beverage, car parking, advertising, and other commercial activities within airport premises. CAPA India highlights that airports operating under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model generate more non-aero revenues compared to those managed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). In FY2020, five PPP airports—Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Cochin—accounted for 71% of the total non-aeronautical revenue in India, while handling 53% of the total traffic.

The Growth Trajectory of Indian Aviation

The Indian aviation market has seen a substantial increase in passenger traffic. From January to May 2024, domestic airlines carried 661.42 lakh passengers, up from 636.07 lakh passengers during the same period the previous year. President Droupadi Murmu, in her address to the joint sitting of Parliament, emphasized that India had increased its airline routes from 209 in April 2014 to 605 by April 2024. This expansion has significantly benefited Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, contributing to the overall growth of the aviation sector.

Room for Improvement in Non-Aero Revenues

Despite the significant increases in non-aeronautical revenues since privatization, CAPA India believes that Indian PPP airports have considerable headroom to reach global levels. The consultancy suggests that airports review their pricing strategies to better reflect the demand on airport resources. This includes considering whether aero charges align with demand and exploring greater differentiation based on factors such as time of day, passenger profile, business model, and airline frequency.


As India's aviation market continues to grow, there is immense potential for airports to boost their profitability by focusing on non-aeronautical revenues. By reviewing pricing strategies and enhancing passenger experience, Indian airports can move closer to global benchmarks and capitalize on the increasing air traffic. Embracing these strategies will not only enhance profitability but also contribute to the overall development of the aviation sector in India.

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Boeing Set to Resume Widebody Deliveries to China Amid Regulatory Hurdles

Abhishek Nayar

28 Jun 2024

Boeing, a leading aerospace company, is poised to resume deliveries of its widebody jets to China, following a temporary halt due to a regulatory review by Chinese authorities. This development marks a significant milestone for Boeing, which has faced several challenges in recent months, including factory disruptions and delivery delays.

Regulatory Review: The Cause of the Delay

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) initiated a review of the batteries in the 25-hour cockpit voice recorder, leading to the suspension of Boeing’s plane deliveries to China. This review impacted Boeing's commercial jet deliveries and delayed orders, which included widebody 777 and 787 planes.

The Impact of Delivery Delays on Boeing

The halt in deliveries had a substantial impact on Boeing's financial outlook. Boeing CFO Brian West had warned investors in May that the delays, combined with factory disruptions, could result in second-quarter cash burn comparable to, or worse than, the $3.9 billion experienced in the first quarter. This situation placed significant pressure on the company to resolve the regulatory issues promptly.

Resumption of Deliveries: A Positive Turn

According to a source familiar with the matter, Boeing is expected to begin delivering widebody jets, including the 777 and 787, to China in the coming days. Additionally, deliveries of the 737 MAX, which had also been affected, are set to resume as early as next month. This positive development is anticipated to bolster Boeing's operations and financial performance in the latter half of the year.

Boeing's Inventory and Delivery Record

In its year-end 2023 filing, Boeing reported having approximately 140 737 MAX 8 aircraft in inventory, with 85 of these aircraft intended for customers in China. Between the start of 2024 and the end of April, Boeing successfully delivered 22 aircraft to China. The resumption of deliveries is expected to further deplete the existing inventory and support Boeing’s recovery efforts.

Looking Ahead: Challenges and Opportunities

While the resumption of deliveries to China is a promising development, Boeing still faces several challenges. The company must ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and address any potential issues promptly to avoid future delays. Additionally, maintaining a steady production rate and managing factory disruptions will be crucial for sustaining growth.


Boeing's ability to resume widebody jet deliveries to China following a regulatory review is a significant step forward for the company. As deliveries of the 777 and 787 planes are expected in the coming days, and the 737 MAX deliveries set to resume next month, Boeing is on track to improve its financial performance and operational stability. The aerospace giant’s focus now shifts to navigating ongoing challenges and seizing opportunities for growth in a competitive market.

Stay tuned for more updates on Boeing’s journey as it navigates the complexities of international regulations and strives to maintain its position as a leader in the aerospace industry.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Southwest Faces Pricing Woes Amid Record Travel Demand

Abhishek Nayar

28 Jun 2024

Southwest Airlines has hit some turbulence, grappling with ongoing pricing struggles even as the U.S. gears up for a record summer travel season. The low-cost carrier recently revised its revenue expectations, dampening investor confidence and prompting a significant drop in its share price.

Record Demand, Lowered Expectations

Despite an anticipated surge in summer travel, Southwest Airlines has lowered its forecast for revenue per available seat mile (RASM), a crucial metric for pricing power. Initially, the airline projected a RASM decline of 1.5% to 3.5% for the second quarter. However, this estimate has now been revised to a more significant drop of 4% to 4.5%.

This adjustment reflects the airline's struggle to accurately predict demand trends, leading to an inability to sell the expected number of seats. Although record revenue is still expected due to high demand, the pricing issues have raised concerns among investors.

Investor Concerns and Stock Performance

The impact of these pricing challenges was immediately felt in the stock market, with Southwest's shares falling 4% on Wednesday following the announcement. Over the past two years, the stock has lost 25% of its value, in stark contrast to competitors like Delta and United, which have seen their shares rise by 55% and 25%, respectively.

Adding to the pressure, activist investor Elliott Management, which holds an 11% stake in Southwest, reiterated its call for leadership and board changes. In a statement, Elliott criticized the current management, stating that "Southwest is led by a team that has proven unable to adapt to the modern airline industry."

Industry-Wide Pricing Challenges

Southwest is not alone in facing pricing difficulties. American Airlines also cited similar issues when it lowered its second-quarter unit revenue forecast last month. The industry-wide challenge suggests a broader trend of struggling to maintain pricing power amidst fluctuating demand.

Impact of Boeing's Safety Crisis

Southwest's pricing struggles are compounded by challenges related to its all-Boeing fleet. The planemaker's ongoing safety crisis has delayed the delivery of new jets, forcing Southwest to moderate its growth plans. Earlier this year, the airline had to remove the smaller MAX 7 aircraft from its 2024 fleet plans due to certification issues. The MAX 7 was expected to provide the airline with flexibility to adjust capacity according to demand, but its absence has further complicated Southwest's ability to optimize revenue.

Analyst Insights

Citi analyst Stephen Trent highlighted the implications of these challenges, noting that "with no expected changes in capacity, unit revenue looks worse, which indicates weaker price points and/or lower ancillary revenue." The inability to adjust capacity dynamically in response to passenger traffic trends has put additional strain on Southwest's revenue strategies.

Looking Ahead

Despite these hurdles, the broader outlook for the airline industry remains optimistic, with Airlines for America projecting that U.S. carriers will transport 271 million passengers during the summer season, a 6.3% increase from last year. However, for Southwest Airlines, navigating through these pricing challenges while maintaining investor confidence will be crucial in the months ahead.

As the summer travel season takes off, all eyes will be on Southwest to see if it can overcome its current turbulence and steer towards smoother skies.

With Inputs from Reuters

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Why is FedEx Retiring Its Fleet of Boeing 757s? A Look into the Future of Air Cargo

Abhishek Nayar

28 Jun 2024

On June 25, 2024, FedEx Express made a significant announcement that marks a pivotal shift in its operational strategy. The Memphis-based logistics giant revealed its decision to permanently retire 22 Boeing 757-200 freighters. This move comes as part of FedEx’s broader efforts to modernize its fleet and improve network efficiency. The announcement coincided with the release of the company’s financial results for the quarter ending May 31, 2024, revealing a stark 53% drop in year-on-year revenue.

Financial Impact and Fleet Changes

FedEx reported fiscal fourth-quarter revenues of $201 million, a significant decrease from the $430 million reported during the same period in 2023. This decline includes a non-cash impairment charge of $157 million, attributed to the retirement of the 22 Boeing 757-200 aircraft and seven related engines. The company emphasized that this decision is aimed at aligning air network capacity with current and anticipated demand.

The Boeing 757-200s have been integral to FedEx’s operations across North America and select international routes, replacing the older Boeing 727s. Despite their historical importance, many of the remaining 757s are over 30 years old. Currently, FedEx's fleet includes 109 757-200s, with 57 active and 52 inactive.

Strategic Facility Closures

Alongside the fleet retirement, FedEx announced the closure of seven facilities. This step is part of the company’s strategy to better match capacity with demand, indicating a significant shift in how the company plans to operate in the future.

Declining International Cargo Yields

One of the primary reasons behind FedEx's decreased financial performance is lower international cargo yields. The company has struggled since the pandemic's end, a period during which it initially thrived due to increased demand for air cargo. However, as more passenger aircraft have re-entered service, providing additional belly-hold space for freight forwarders, cargo airlines like FedEx have faced fluctuating demand for their services.

Competitive Pressures and Market Shifts

Adding to FedEx’s challenges, United Parcel Service (UPS) secured a key contract at the start of 2024 to become the primary air cargo carrier for the US Postal Service (USPS). This contract, which FedEx had held for two decades, represents a significant loss for the company and is a contributing factor to the decision to retire the 757s.

Future Outlook

Despite these challenges, FedEx remains optimistic about its future. The company is forecasting revenues of $5.2 billion for fiscal 2025. Key priorities include investments in network optimization and efficiency improvements, focusing on fleet and facility modernization and automation. These initiatives are expected to enhance the company’s global network and better align its operations with evolving market demands.


The retirement of 22 Boeing 757-200 freighters marks a new chapter for FedEx Express as it navigates the complexities of the modern air cargo market. By modernizing its fleet and optimizing its network, FedEx aims to stay competitive and meet the demands of a changing industry landscape. As the company invests in future growth and efficiency, it will be interesting to see how these strategic shifts impact its long-term success.

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IndiGo Faces Rs 1 Lakh Penalty for Alleged Visa Violations

Abhishek Nayar

28 Jun 2024

In a recent development, the Bureau of Immigration has imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh on IndiGo, India's leading airline, for alleged visa-related violations. Despite the financial sanction, IndiGo's parent company, InterGlobe Aviation, has assured stakeholders that the fine will not impact the airline's financials, operations, or other activities.

The Penalty: A Closer Look and Impact on IndiGo

On June 11, IndiGo received a communication from the Bureau of Immigration, which operates under the Home Ministry, regarding the penalty. The specific details of the alleged violations have not been disclosed. In a regulatory filing, InterGlobe Aviation confirmed the receipt of the notice and the imposition of the penalty.

InterGlobe Aviation has stated that the Rs 1 lakh fine will not have a material impact on IndiGo's financial health or its operations. This assurance is crucial for maintaining investor confidence and ensuring that the airline's day-to-day activities continue without disruption.

Delayed Disclosure Explained, Regulatory Compliance and Future Implications

The airline acknowledged a delay in disclosing this information to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). IndiGo explained that the delay was due to its efforts to explore the possibility of filing an appeal against the order. This indicates that the airline is considering legal options to contest the penalty, which could potentially lead to a reduction or reversal of the fine.

The imposition of the penalty highlights the importance of regulatory compliance in the aviation industry. It serves as a reminder for airlines to ensure strict adherence to visa and immigration laws to avoid similar penalties in the future.


While the Rs 1 lakh penalty for visa-related violations is a setback for IndiGo, the airline's proactive approach in addressing the issue and exploring legal remedies demonstrates its commitment to regulatory compliance and operational integrity. Stakeholders can remain assured that IndiGo continues to maintain its robust financial and operational standing.

What’s Next for IndiGo?

As the situation unfolds, it will be interesting to see how IndiGo navigates this challenge. Will the appeal process lead to a favorable outcome for the airline? Only time will tell. For now, IndiGo remains focused on maintaining its leadership position in the Indian aviation market while ensuring compliance with all regulatory requirements.

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Is India's Aviation Sector Taking Control of Its Future Workforce?

Abhishek Nayar

28 Jun 2024

As India's aviation industry anticipates an exponential increase in the demand for trained manpower, major players are taking proactive steps to ensure a steady supply of skilled professionals. With firms like Air India and the GMR group leading the charge, the focus is shifting towards in-house training programs to bridge the gap between industry needs and the quality of available manpower.

Air India's Pilot Training School Initiative

Recognizing the need for high-quality training, Air India is launching its own pilot training school. This initiative comes in response to concerns over the current standards in Indian flying schools, which often leave graduates underprepared for the demands of the industry. A senior executive at Tata Sons-owned Air India highlighted the importance of ensuring top-notch training for the next generation of pilots to maintain safety and operational standards.

GMR Group's Investment in Engineering Training

The GMR group, which owns the largest airframe maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) company in India, GMR Aero Technic, is investing Rs 50 crore in the GMR School of Aviation. This new institution aims to address the looming shortage of aircraft maintenance engineers. Ashok Gopinath, President and Accountable Manager of GMR Aero Technic, stated that the school will launch its first courses by mid-July, targeting students who have completed their 10+2 examinations with a background in physics, chemistry, and mathematics.

Comprehensive Training Programs

The GMR School of Aviation will offer a globally recognized four-year program. This includes two years of academic study followed by two years of on-the-job training at the Hyderabad-based MRO facility. Gopinath emphasized that this approach will ensure graduates are industry-ready, eliminating the need for additional training after hiring.

Industry-Wide Demand for Skilled Manpower

The demand for skilled aviation professionals is poised to surge, driven by massive aircraft orders from airlines like IndiGo, Air India, and Akasa, which collectively have over 1,200 planes on order. Industry projections estimate that India will need approximately 5,000 aircraft maintenance engineers over the next five years.

Collaboration with Airbus

To enhance the quality of training, GMR Aero Technic has partnered with Airbus. The European aerospace giant will provide technical handbooks, an examination database, and access to the Airbus Competence Training (ACT) package. This maintenance training software solution will help students familiarize themselves with the latest Airbus aircraft technology and maintenance procedures in a classroom environment. Airbus will also train GMR instructors and assist in assessing the training center.

Addressing Global Interest and Challenges

India's aviation growth has attracted interest from foreign MROs looking to establish operations in the country. However, these firms face challenges in sourcing skilled human resources. Gopinath noted that top executives from various global aerospace and MRO firms have visited the GMR School of Aviation, eager to collaborate and secure ready-made talent for their future ventures in India.


India's aviation firms are taking significant steps to ensure a robust and skilled workforce for the future. By investing in in-house training programs, companies like Air India and the GMR group are addressing both the quantity and quality of manpower required to support the industry's growth. These initiatives not only promise to meet the rising demand but also set a benchmark for quality training in the aviation sector.

With Inputs from Economic Times