The In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try is in­deed for­tu­nate that it is en­dowed with lead­er­ship that is proac­tive, de­ci­sive and for­ward look­ing

SP's Airbuz - - Table Of Contents - — B.K. PANDEY

THE YEAR 2016 has in­deed been truly event­ful for the In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try and it will cer­tainly go down in its his­tory as one that ush­ered in a new dawn for the in­dus­try that had for the ma­jor part of its ex­is­tence, been en­gaged in a re­lent­less strug­gle for sur­vival. It was for the first time in the his­tory of the na­tion since its in­de­pen­dence that in the month of June this year, the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia came up and im­ple­mented an in­te­grated Na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Pol­icy that was crafted to pro­vide an ecosys­tem for the har­monised growth of the dif­fer­ent sub­sec­tors of the In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try namely the air­lines, air­ports, air cargo, main­te­nance, re­pair and over­haul (MRO) ser­vices, busi­ness and gen­eral avi­a­tion, aerospace man­u­fac­tur­ing and skill devel­op­ment. The ma­jor fo­cus of the Na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Pol­icy how­ever was on re­gional avi­a­tion, a seg­ment of the in­dus­try that had the po­ten­tial to pro­vide the next phase of growth; but had thus far re­mained largely ne­glected.

The new pol­icy has pro­vided for what has been termed as the Re­gional Con­nec­tiv­ity Scheme to make avail­able the fa­cil­ity of air travel to the large seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion that re­sides in the hin­ter­land and the re­mote ar­eas of the coun­try not eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by sur­face trans­port. This scheme also branded as ‘ Ude Desh ka Aam Naa­grik’ or UDAN for short, en­vis­aged cre­at­ing mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture by up­grad­ing ca­pac­ity of air­ports, build­ing low-cost green­field air­ports and ac­ti­vat­ing the large num­ber of airstrips cur­rently not in use. The scheme also catered for en­sur­ing fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity through Vi­a­bil­ity Gap Fund­ing (VGF) for re­gional car­ri­ers who opt to be a part of the scheme and op­er­ate to re­gional des­ti­na­tions. The re­sponse from the re­gional car­ri­ers has so far been en­cour­ag­ing.

Un­der the new gov­ern­ment led by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, the In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try is in­deed for­tu­nate that it is en­dowed with lead­er­ship that is proac­tive, de­ci­sive and for­ward look­ing. Headed by the dy­namic and proac­tive Min­is­ter of Civil Avi­a­tion P. Ashok Ga­jap­athi Raju, duly sup­ported by the Min­is­ter of State for Civil Avi­a­tion Jayant Sinha and a very com- pe­tent and re­sult ori­ented Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Civil Avi­a­tion, R.N. Choubey, it is prob­a­bly for the first time that the po­lit­i­cal and bureau­cratic lead­er­ship has been in­ter­act­ing with the cap­tains of the In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try and are pre­pared to not only lis­ten to their prob­lems, but gen­uinely ap­pre­ci­ate their dif­fi­cul­ties and take ap­pro­pri­ate steps to re­solve is­sues. Abro­ga­tion of the con­tro­ver­sial 5/20 rule is one vivid ex­am­ple of their re­solve to set things right in the in­dus­try. And of course cre­at­ing the re­sources to sup­port re­gional car­ri­ers through VGF is an­other.

One is­sue that has been pend­ing for long is the pri­vati­sa­tion of the na­tional car­rier Air In­dia. In a re­cent in­ter­view, the Min­is­ter of Civil Avi­a­tion Ga­jap­athi Raju in­di­cated that the gov­ern­ment was ex­plor­ing ways and means of eas­ing the mas­sive debt bur­den of the na­tional car­rier Air In­dia. In or­der to achieve this, the gov­ern­ment is even will­ing to talk to par­ties that might be in­ter­ested in pick­ing up stake in the air­line. While com­plete pri­vati­sa­tion of the only state-owned air­line in the coun­try may still be a dis­tant dream, the Min­istry of Civil Avi­a­tion ap­pears in­clined to in­volve the pri­vate sec­tor in the man­age­ment of this loss­mak­ing na­tional car­rier and ef­fec­tively com­plete the turn­around of the air­line ini­ti­ated a few months ago.

The ef­fort by the Min­istry of Civil Avi­a­tion to trans­form the In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try has pro­duced re­sults that are ev­i­dent in the sus­tained rate of growth of pas­sen­ger traf­fic which has been in the re­gion of 20 per cent per an­num. The gov­ern­ment aims to pro­pel the In­dian civil avi­a­tion mar­ket from its cur­rent po­si­tion of ninth to the third largest in the world in the next few years. Pas­sen­ger traf­fic is also ex­pected to grow from the cur­rent level of 150 mil­lion per an­num to 500 mil­lion per an­num. With an enlightened and ag­gres­sive lead­er­ship and sus­tained ef­fort by all the stake­hold­ers in the in­dus­try, the ob­jec­tives set for it to achieve are not be­yond the realm of pos­si­bil­ity. In con­form­ity with the vi­sion of the Modi-led gov­ern­ment, the In­dian civil avi­a­tion in­dus­try too may fi­nally wit­ness good days ahead!

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