UDAN SCHEME GETS A MA­JOR PUSH IN THE UNION BUD­GET 2018-19

SP's Airbuz - - Front Page - —By Ar­pita Kala

While Minister of State for Civil Avi­a­tion Jayant Sinha had de­clared the Union Bud­get 2018-19 as a ‘po­lit­i­cal doc­u­ment’, some of the plans men­tioned in the fis­cal bud­get may bode well for In­dian avi­a­tion es­pe­cially for the UDAN ( Ude Desh ka Aam Na­grik) scheme. From im­prov­ing flight op­er­a­tions due to poor vis­i­bil­ity dur­ing smog in win­ter months to ex­pand­ing the air­ports, many grand plans were un­veiled.

FI­NANCE MINISTER ARUN JAIT­LEY said while pre­sent­ing the bud­get today morn­ing, “The Air­port Author­ity of In­dia (AAI) has 124 air­ports, we pro­pose to ex­pand air­port ca­pac­ity to 1 bil­lion trips a year. With this step, hawai chap­pal wear­ing cit­i­zens will be able to take the hawai jahaaz.” He also stated that 56 un-served air­ports and 31 he­li­pads will also be con­nected, and op­er­a­tions at 16 such air­ports have al­ready be­gun. An al­lo­ca­tion of 1,014.09 crore for the up­com­ing fi­nan­cial year was an­nounced for re­viv­ing 50 air­ports and vi­a­bil­ity gap fund­ing in north east­ern states un­der the flag­ship re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity scheme.

With CAPA pre­dict­ing 125 mil­lion do­mes­tic fliers in 201718 alone, Jait­ley’s am­bi­tious plan to in­crease air­port ca­pac­ity by up to five times to han­dle the bil­lion trips seems poised to boost the UDAN.

Not only ex­pand­ing the in­fra­struc­ture, im­prov­ing flight sched­ules also seems to be the goal with the fi­nance minister an­nounc­ing a spe­cial scheme to help north­ern states af­fected with air pol­lu­tion. The union gov­ern­ment will as­sist the state gov­ern­ments to set up an in-situ ma­chin­ery for dis­pos­ing crop residue in a man­ner that doesn’t ad­versely af­fect the en­vi­ron­ment. The re­cent smog af­fected flight op­er­a­tions in a big way and this de­vel­op­ment may just get a sigh of re­lief for the avi­a­tion in­dus­try.

The fi­nance minister also men­tioned re­quir­ing a “nec­es­sary frame­work for higher in­vest­ment in sea plane op­er­a­tions”. He, how­ever, did not elab­o­rate about it in his speech. With Spice­Jet shar­ing plans to buy about 100 sea­planes and Trans­port and High­ways and Ship­ping and Wa­ter Re­sources Minister, Nitin Gad­kari speaking about new rules to make the air­craft an ef­fec­tive mode of trans­port, looks like a new way of fly­ing is in the off­ing.

How­ever, there are some un­ad­dressed is­sues in the bud­get. Amitabh Khosla, Coun­try Di­rec­tor – In­dia, In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion (IATA) says, “We wel­come the fo­cus on air­port in­fra­struc­ture ca­pac­ity an­nounced in the bud­get. In our 20 year pas­sen­ger fore­casts, IATA an­tic­i­pates In­dia will be­come the third largest avi­a­tion mar­ket by 2024. But this is by no means guar­an­teed. To make this a re­al­ity, air­port ca­pac­ity in In­dia needs to be aug­mented and ex­panded quickly. IATA has ear­lier rec­om­mended and is sup­port­ive of lever­ag­ing AAI’s bal­ance sheet for in­fra­struc­ture cre­ation and ex­pan­sion. But the big ques­tion mark on ca­pac­ity, and a crit­i­cal area of con­cern for IATA, con­tin­ues to be about Mum­bai air­port. Navi Mum­bai air­port is still a dis­tant dream. In the mean­time, Mum­bai con­tin­ues to fall be­hind in avi­a­tion ac­tiv­ity, and Ma­ha­rash­tra state is un­able to max­imise the eco­nomic po­ten­tial that can be de­liv­ered by avi­a­tion. We urge the gov­ern­ment to ur­gently look at in­no­va­tive ap­proaches to bridge the in­fra­struc­ture short­fall.”

FROM HAWAI CHAP­PALS AND HAWAI JAHAAZ TO FLIGHT OP­ER­A­TIONS AF­FECTED BY SMOG, FI­NANCE MINISTER ARUN JAIT­LEY HAS BIG PLANS FOR IN­DIAN AVI­A­TION

The Union Minister for Fi­nance Arun Jait­ley with other se­nior of­fi­cials be­fore pre­sent­ing the Union Bud­get 2018-19, in New Delhi on Fe­bru­ary 1, 2018.

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