The rise and rise of the Indian OTA market

As things stand today, India is among the most attractive aviation markets. In 2018, domestic passenger enplanements in India totalled 139 million, growing 19% year-over-year. According to OAG, the number of domestic flights (frequencies) operating within India grew an astronomical 626% from 165,070 in 1998 to 1,034,404 in 2018.

But even as recently as a decade ago, traveling within India largely meant taking a pilgrimage or visiting friends and families. Train travel and surface transportation were the primary means of transportation, as flight routes were limited, and airfares were relatively exorbitant. International travel too was accessible to a tiny minority, led by business travelers and overseas workers.

But the advent of online rail bookings and the emergence low-cost carriers (LCCs) in the early-2000s changed the face of Indian travel market as we know it. While Indian Railways looked to the online channels to offset physical infrastructure limitations, a gamut of LCCs liberalized airfares through unbundling. In turn, this gave birth to online travel agencies (OTAs) who championed search engine marketing to boost their position online. With increasing visitor traffic and funding, OTAs further enhanced their digital retailing capabilities using actionable data, targeted promotions and offers.

In its latest report Indian Online Travel Agencies: Look how far we have come OAG takes a closer look at the growth in influence of OTAs in the region and how they are navigating one of the fastest aviation growth markets in the world.