Aviation sector has potential to grow in double digits: Pradeep Kharola

The government is trying to make policy interventions to create a congenial atmosphere so that the number of airplanes can double, says Pradeep Kharola, Civil Aviation Secretary, Ministry of Aviation. Excerpts from an interview with Ruchi Bhatia of ETNOW at Times Networks’ India Economic Conclave.

India has the ninth largest civil aviation market and also boasts about fastest growing market with respect to domestic travel as well. Where do the opportunities really lie in the aviation sector? You are pushing the pedal on airport privatisation. The Modi government is really talking about Rs 100 lakh crore worth of investment in terms of infrastructure. Where do we see the aviation sector contributing to this pie?
You have partly answered the question itself. If the economy has to reach the $5-trillion mark, some sectors will have to grow in double digits. Aviation is a sector which has proved that it has the potential to grow in double digits. In the last four to five years, aviation in India has grown at a cumulative rate of 16%. That is where the answer to growth lies and this year, the aviation sector has proved its resilience.

Because of certain problems, one of the airlines had to suspend operations and almost 20% of our capacity disappeared. In spite of that, when we look back and see the number of aircraft flying before that airline stopped, operations and number of aircraft flying now shows a growth of 5-6% which means the industry has not only wiped out the gap, but it has added on to the capacity.

The aviation sector was growing at the rate of 3-4% in the initial months of this year. Come November, the growth again hit 11%. Now this establishes that the aviation industry has become not only highly growth oriented but also has established its resilience.

The aviation ecosystem has various components. Let us look at the airports. About 100 airports are operational today and we have no doubt that in the next five years, the number of operational airports would double. Now how is this going to happen? That is going to be a multipronged approach, the important being inviting the private sector to the airport projects and the response of the private sector has been extremely good.

In the first phase, we did bid out six airport projects on the PPP mode and the response was overwhelming. Let us look at the response of the new greenfield airport at Jewar. The response has been so competitive that even we are surprised by the response we are getting. Today we have about 600 plus aircraft flying. In the next five years the number would double. The government is trying to make policy interventions to create a congenial atmosphere so that this doubling of numbers of airplanes does take place.


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