Navi Mum­bai air­port in 4-5 yrs

In­dian avi­a­tion seems to be on an up­swing bring­ing with it se­vere con­ges­tion and frus­trat­ing ca­pac­ity crunch at key air­ports. Jayant Sinha, Min­is­ter of State for Civil Avi­a­tion, Gov­ern­ment of In­dia, en­lists what the min­istry is do­ing to com­bat this while

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Ad­dress­ing a gath­er­ing at the an­nual CAPA Con­fer­ence in Mum­bai via a video link, Jayant Sinha, Min­is­ter of State for Civil Avi­a­tion, chose an­swer­ing ques­tions over giv­ing a speech. Tak­ing a vol­ley of ques­tions, he said that while Mum­bai and Delhi both have ca­pac­ity chal­lenges, im­prove­ments at the Delhi air­port are al­ready un­der­way.

“We ex­pect it to have the fourth run­way and re­lease slots for win­ter 2018 and on­wards. So, Delhi will once again re­sume its growth. We have air­ports at Je­war and Hin­dar near Delhi com­ing up as well. Mum­bai, how­ever, with its sin­gle run­way and sat­u­ra­tion of slots, re­mains the sin­gle-most im­por­tant bot­tle­neck as far as civil avi­a­tion in In­dia is con­cerned. Un­til the Navi Mum­bai In­ter­na­tional Air­port near Mum­bai be­comes op­er­a­tional, there is no so­lu­tion to the con­ges­tion at the Mum­bai air­port. Un­for­tu­nately, there is no quick way to get the Navi Mum­bai air­port done. It will take at least four to five years to bring it up to ca­pac­ity,” he said.

The plan­ning author­ity– City & In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (CIDCO)– which has un­der­taken the Navi Mum­bai air­port project though we have added ca­pac­ity, al­though it is not at the same level as Delhi. Our bench­mark as far as im­mi­gra­tion is con­cerned is 20 min­utes. If any­one must wait more than that, then we are not do­ing our job well.”

In­ter­na­tional growth

Re­ply­ing to a ques­tion about sti­fling in­ter­na­tional growth, the min­is­ter said that he did not think that the gov­ern­ment poli­cies are re­spon­si­ble for con­strain­ing in­ter­na­tional growth. “In my opin­ion, the con­straints are re­ally to do with air­port ca­pac­ity as well as wide-body ac­qui­si­tions by the low-cost car­rier. Th­ese two are in my mind as the most im­por­tant fac­tors con­strain­ing in­ter­na­tional growth. More­over, in­ter­na­tional to Lon­don five or seven days a week at a com­pet­i­tive price point, the mar­ket would ex­plode. We need a di­rect, wide-body, com­fort­able ex­pe­ri­ence from say, Kolkata to Lon­don at the right price. Such con­nec­tions would be able to un­lock the mar­ket. We lack the di­rect low-cost al­ter­na­tives to the ma­jor avi­a­tion hubs of the world, whether it is in Europe or East Asia or the West. With this the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket will evolve.”

Growth tra­jec­tory in 4 years

While the Cen­tre for Asia Pa­cific Avi­a­tion (CAPA) pre­dicts In­dian avi­a­tion to grow at about 20 per cent this year, the min­is­ter pre­dicted a slightly less am­bi­tious growth pat­tern. He has put 2019-end as an es­ti­mated time of com­ple­tion. 20-min im­mi­gra­tion

Speak­ing about the steps taken at the Delhi air­port in re­sponse to the re­cent spike in in­ter­na­tional travel, he said, “We re­cently saw a dra­matic spike of 30 per cent in in­ter­na­tional travel in the win­ter sched­ule, par­tic­u­larly at the IGI Delhi air­port. In re­sponse to that, we along with the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs acted swiftly by in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity for im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers as well as im­mi­gra­tion coun­ters. In Mum­bai how­ever, we are much more con­strained even slots are an is­sue for us, not so much the bi­lat­eral agree­ments be­tween coun­tries. But even more im­por­tant than the slots are low cost di­rect in­ter­na­tional flights,” he said.

Giv­ing a sneak-peek into what the min­istry was con­sid­er­ing as a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to this, he said that the in­dus­try should look at the Nor­we­gian model or the model used by Scoot and Level (the Bri­tish Air­ways LCC). Th­ese, he said, could work for a price-sen­si­tive mar­ket like In­dia. Giv­ing an ex­am­ple for this, he said, “If an air­line could mount a di­rect flight from, let’s say, Amritsar said, “I sus­pect we are go­ing to see growth in the 15 per cent range rather than 20 per cent, which given the cir­cum­stances is still a fan­tas­tic growth rate for In­dia. Re­mem­ber that 15 per cent vol­ume growth means that we are go­ing to dou­ble the traf­fic in five years. So, our plan­ning must be fo­cused on a bil­lion trips a year. That is what we are work­ing to­wards – enough ca­pac­ity in air, enough ca­pac­ity on the ground and enough ca­pac­ity in our in­sti­tu­tions.”

Un­der­lin­ing the pro­jected bil­lion trips per year, he said that ev­ery el­e­ment of the avi­a­tion sys­tem that the min­istry is work­ing on to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity and ca­pac­ity is with the clear view to en­able the sys­tem to han­dle a bil­lion

air­port. airp Un­for­tu­nately, there is no quick way will take ta at least four to five years to bring it up to ca­pac­ity. Jayant Sinha Min­is­ter of State for Civil Avi­a­tion Gov­ern­ment of In­dia

trips. “We are plan­ning a bil­lion trips. This means that in­fra­struc­ture and ca­pac­ity need to be up­graded to ac­com­mo­date this. Je­war near Delhi and Pu­ran­dar near Pune are new green­field air­ports which will help us to that,” Sinha added.

Con­nect­ing smaller cities

Re­fer­ring to the gov­ern­ment’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naa­grik) pro­gramme which looks af­ter re­gional air­port de­vel­op­ment un­der the Re­gional Con­nec­tiv­ity Scheme, the min­is­ter said, “The most re­ward­ing and en­gag­ing as­pect of my job has been to go to In­dia’s Tier-III and IV cities like Hubli and Jamshed­pur to see how ro­bust the de­mand is when we start flights from th­ese cities. Take the ex­am­ple of my home­town Ranchi. Two years ago, Ranchi had 11 flights a day. From the sum­mer sched­ule this year, it will have 27-28 flights a day. This tripling of ca­pac­ity and the load fac­tors re­main very ro­bust.”

He es­ti­mated that about six to eight he­li­copters will also be pro­cured for UDAN II, which will open re­mote des­ti­na­tions such as Ma­nipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Ut­tarak­hand, Hi­machal Pradesh, and Kash­mir.

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