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The civil aviation industry in India has emerged as one of the fastest growing industries in the country during the last three years. India is currently considered the third largest domestic civil aviation market in the world. India has become the third largest domestic aviation market in the world and is expected to overtake UK to become the third largest air passenger market by 2024.
India’s passenger traffic grew at 16.52 per cent year on year to reach 308.75 million in FY18. It grew at a CAGR of 12.72 per cent during FY06-FY18. Domestic passenger traffic grew YoY by 18.28 per cent to reach 243 million in FY18 and is expected to become 293.28 million in FY20E. International passenger grew YoY by 10.43 per cent to reach 65.48 million in FY18 and traffic is expected to become 76 million in FY20E.
In FY18, domestic freight traffic stood at 1,213.06 million tonnes, while international freight traffic was at 2,143.97 million tonnes. India’s domestic and international aircraft movements grew 14.40 per cent YoY and 9.40 per cent YoY to 1,886.63 thousand and 437.93 thousand during 2017-18, respectively. During Apr 2018-Feb 2019, passenger traffic in India stood at 316.51 million.
Out of which domestic passenger traffic stood at 252.92 million while international traffic stood at 63.59 million. Total freight traffic handled in India stood at 3.25 million tonnes during the same time. During Apr 2018-Feb 2019, domestic aircraft movement stood at 1.98 million while international aircraft movement stood at 0.42 million. To cater to the rising air traffic, the Government of India has been working towards increasing the number of airports.
As of March 2019, India has 103 operational airports. India has envisaged increasing the number of operational airports to 190-200 by FY40. Further, the rising demand in the sector has pushed the number of airplanes operating in the sector. As of July 2018, there were nearly 620 aircraft being operated by scheduled airline operators in India. The number of airplanes is expected to grow to 1,100 planes by 2027.
According to data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), FDI inflows in India’s air transport sector (including air freight) reached US$ 1,817.23 million between April 2000 and December 2018. The government has 100 per cent FDI under automatic route in scheduled air transport service, regional air transport service and domestic scheduled passenger airline. However, FDI over 49 per cent would require government approval.
India’s aviation industry is expected to witness Rs 35,000 crore (US$ 4.99 billion) investment in the next four years. The Indian government is planning to invest US$ 1.83 billion for development of airport infrastructure along with aviation navigation services by 2026.
Key investments and developments in India’s aviation industry include:
• AAI is going to invest Rs 15,000 crore (US$ 2.32 billion) in 2018-19 for expanding existing terminals and constructing 15 new ones.
• In June 2018, India has signed an open sky agreement with Australia allowing airlines on either side to offer unlimited seats to six Indian metro cities and various Australian cities.
• The AAI plans to develop Guwahati as an inter-regional hub and Agartala, Imphal and Dibrugarh as intra-regional hubs.
• Indian aircraft Manufacture, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) service providers are exempted completely from customs and countervailing duties
Some major initiatives undertaken by the government are:
• In February 2019, the Government of India sanctioned the development of a new greenfield airport in Hirasar, Gujarat, with an estimated investment of Rs 1,405 crore (US$ 194.73 million).
• As of January 2019, the Government of India is working on a blueprint to promote domestic manufacturing of aircrafts and aircraft financing within the country.
• In January 2019, the government organised the Global Aviation Summit in Mumbai which witnessed participation of over 1,200 delegates from 83 countries.
• In January 2019, the Government of India’s released the National Air Cargo Policy Outline 2019 which envisages making Indian air cargo and logistics the most efficient, seamless and cost and time effective globally by the end of the next decade.
• In November 2018, the Government of India approved a proposal to manage six AAI airports under public private partnership (PPP). These airports are situated in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru. AAI received 32 technical bids from ten companies.
• In February 2018, the Prime Minister of India launched the construction of Navi Mumbai airport which is expected to be built at a cost of US$ 2.58 billion. The first phase of the airport will be completed by end of 2019.
• The Government of Andhra Pradesh is to develop Greenfield airports in six cities-Nizamabad, Nellore, Kurnool, Ramagundam, Tadepalligudem and Kothagudem under the PPP model.
• Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) has been launched.
Following are the achievements of the government during FY18:
• In September 2018, Jharsuguda Airport in Odisha and Pakyong Airport in Sikkim were inaugurated. Pakyong airport is Sikkim’s first ever airport and AAI’s first Greenfield airport construction.
• In December 2018, Kannur International Airport was inaugurated making Kerala the only state in India to have four international airports.
India’s aviation industry is largely untapped with huge growth opportunities, considering that air transport is still expensive for majority of the country’s population, of which nearly 40 per cent is the upwardly mobile middle class. The industry stakeholders should engage and collaborate with policy makers to implement efficient and rational decisions that would boost India’s civil aviation industry. With the right policies and relentless focus on quality, cost and passenger interest, India would be well placed to achieve its vision of becoming the third-largest aviation market by 2020.