Up In The Air: How India’s Domestic Air Passengers Take To The Skies

Up In The Air: How India’s Domestic Air Passengers Take To The Skies

A close look at the behaviour and preferences of the Indian flyer

  • Nearly half of those travelling with family are young – aged between 25 and 35 years
  • Organized and planned tours are a prevalent choice for vacations in India
  • Discounted and cash-back offers more attractive to respondents than loyalty points and other special services 

India’s airline industry is currently witnessing robust growth fuelled to a large extent by vast infrastructure improvements across the country. Old airports are getting facelifts, and the advent of low-cost carriers is prompting more people to fly to their destinations. Encouraged by an increasing flyer count, several greenfield airports have cropped up across India, making many regions more easily accessible. The number of operational airports has increased to 82 in 2010 from 50 in 2000. As a result of these efforts, the compound annual growth rate of the aviation industry has been estimated at a high 18 percent by industry sources.

Currently the 9th largest aviation market, India is predicted to become the 3rd largest by 2020 with 336 million domestic and 85 million international travellers. The opportunities therefore, for airlines, hoteliers, tour operators and other travel and tourism-related companies are immense.

To better understand this growing market, Nielsen recently conducted a survey shedding light on the behaviour and preferences of the country’s domestic air travellers. The survey showed that tour operators play a big role in the planning of vacations. It also found that around 12 percent of all business travel in the country is for MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events).

Almost half (46%) of those travelling with their families are young, aged between 25 and 35 years. Frequency of leisure trips is also significantly higher amongst those aged between 26 to 30 years – 95 percent of this age group claim to travel once in six months or more for personal reasons. Since they also claim to play a major role (or are sole decision-makers) for their family’s travel plans, they are a critical target group for marketers in the family holiday space.

Flight Plan: Tour Operators Score Big 

Despite the rise in self-booking, the survey revealed that tour operators still plan almost half of the vacations respondents take. Around 42 percent of those who went on leisure travel, excluding family functions and weddings say they’ve opted for tours planned and organised by a holiday company or tour operator. Organised tours continue to score highly among decision-makers because many consumers believe they give good value for money and promote their products effectively. They also make travelling convenient.

Soaring Deals

For most travellers, the key parameter for choosing an airline and hotel was value for money and promotions instead of the lowest cost. When it comes to promotions, travellers seem to favour instant gratification. Respondents preferred discounts on current booking and instant cashback offers over loyalty points and special services.


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Up In The Air: How India’s Domestic Air Passengers Take To The Skies

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