Govt in ‘mission mode’ to expand aviation: PM
Accusing previous governments of having “no vision” for aviation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that his Government has come out with the first integrated policy for the sector and is working in “mission mode” for its expansion which will spur growth and employment. Dedicating the new integrated terminal building of the airport here, Modi noted that India in the near future would probably become the third country in the world in terms of airport activity benchmarks and “if you think only 80 to 100 airports are enough, then we are trying to create hurdles in the country’s growth”.
He said that the country’s development can take a new dimensions if attention is given to tier-2 and tier-3 cities, which have the same potential, and referred to government’s new regional connectivity scheme. Attacking the previous governments, he said, “Earlier airports were set up, planes would fly but the country did not have an aviation policy.
“How to take the sector forward in next five or ten years and take care of its and passengers’ needs, what should be done for common people, there was no vision in place earlier. It was just moving,” he said. “After the NDA government came to power, for the first time since independence it formulated a new aviation policy for the country,” he said inaugurating the terminal building which is now the country’s second green airport after Kochi.
He said that the new aviation policy will take care of the consumers’ needs and the growth of the sector. Modi said that the aviation sector is growing at a very fast pace and more middle-class families aspire to travel by air.
“It is estimated that within five years, the situation in India would be such that the airports in the country would have as much footfall in a year as America’s total population. You can well imagine how this sector is growing. India in the near future would probably become the third country in the world in terms of airport activity benchmarks. This will help increase employment opportunities and would spur economic activity,” he said.
Spread in an area of 17,500 sq mt, the new integrated terminal has been built at a cost of Rs 160 crore. It has been designed to handle 700 passengers, including international fliers, per hour with 18 check-in counters, which would help in a seamless boarding process.
It took about seven years to complete the project as the then Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had laid the foundation stone in 2009. The 8,100-meter-long runway of the Vadodra airport can handle small and narrow body aircraft such as Airbus 320 and Boeing 737s. Besides national carrier Air India, private airlines likes IndiGo and Jet aiways are operating from here.
This airport will be zero discharge, waste to wealth, energy saving and environment friendly, the PM said. Speaking about the potential of tier-2 and tier-3 cities,he said the government brought “out a new regional connectivity scheme under which people can travel with airfares of only Rs 2,500 for up to 500 kms distance.”
Claiming that his government had taken a number of steps to promote the aviation sector, Modi said, “I am happy that after the formation of the new NDA government, two airports in the country have become a part of the green movement.”
He said that when such iconic buildings come up, the common people get encouraged to use economically viable and environment-friendly technology.
“Connectivity plays an important role in the world today, both physical and digital connectivity is required and if we need highways, we also need I-ways (Information ways.) Similarly, air traffic is also needed. Air services are required in a big way for growth of tourism in the country.”
Better air connectivity means more tourists and this means better economic growth. There are immense possibility for tourism growth in India. Keeping that in view, this government has decided to promote the aviation sector,” he said. Earlier, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajpathi Raju said since the NDA government came to power, air passengers traffic has “grown by over 20 per cent”.
The country’s domestic airlines registered robust growth in September, carrying over 23 per cent more passengers at 82.3 lakh compared to the year-ago period, according to official data released recently. Even though the growth rate is 23.46 per cent for September, the overall number is slightly lower than 83.81 lakh passengers flown by carriers in August.
Last month, budget carrier IndiGo remained the market leader with 40 per cent share while rival SpiceJet had the highest passenger load factor of 93.5 per cent. Latest data from aviation regulator DGCA showed that local carriers flew 82.3 lakh people last month compared to 66.66 lakh people in September 2015.
“Another month of record growth for Indian aviation. Maintains its top rank with 23.4 per cent growth in Sep 2016,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in a tweet. The sustained domestic air passenger traffic growth of more than 20 per cent over the past year also comes against the backdrop of airlines coming out with attractive fares to garner increased market share amid stiff competition.
“Passengers carried by domestic airlines during January- September 2016 were 726.98 lakh as against 590.21 lakh during the corresponding period of previous year thereby registering a growth of 23.17 per cent,” DGCA said. In terms of market share, Jet Airways was at the second position with 16.2 per cent.
National carrier Air India emerged third with 14.7 per cent market share, followed by SpiceJet (12.5 per cent).