The infrastructure at some of the top airports in the country is crumbling, while there has been a consistent double digit growth in domestic air traffic for the past three years. According to a recent study, the structural capacity of airports in the country is likely to be breached in the next five years.
In view of this, minister of state for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha, announced at the 2nd Aero Expo India 2017, that “We are developing a comprehensive master plan for our airports, because traffic continues to grow strongly and will continue to do so. Even if we grow at 10 per cent, we will see massive requirement as far as airport capacity is concerned.”
He added that air traffic is expected to ‘double, if not quadruple’ in the next 20-25 years and that is the planning horizon the government is aiming at. The master plan will delve into the need for multiple airports in cities, revised and refined agreements with airport operators, providing attractive opportunities for operating brownfield airports, offering multiple brownfield airports as part of a package for bidding, as well as scaling up the Airports Authority of India, Sinha said.
According to a study by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), the country’s airport system is expected to exceed its maximum structural capacity by FY 2022. It noted that 10 aerodromes under the Airports Authority of India are already operating ‘beyond their design capacity’, while other aerodromes at Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata will reach their maximum capacity in the next one year to five years. The CAPA estimated that India will need an investment of up to USD 45 billion, to create an additional capacity of handling 500-600 million passengers at its airports by 2030. As per the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) 20-year passenger forecast, by 2036, India will be the third fastest-growing market, with an expected addition of 337 million new passengers from 141 million passengers in 2016.
Vice-president Venkaiah Naidu, who was the chief guest at the aero expo, underlined the need to improve safety and security in the aviation sector. “The most crucial aspects are safety and security and there can’t be any compromise on these two counts. The most stringent norms have to be adopted to ensure safe and secure air travel,” Naidu said while addressing the gathering. He added that while the number of accidents and accident rate globally have shown a decrease as per International Civil Aviation Organisation, ‘we should see to it that there are no accidents at all’.