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In Expansion Mode

There is a mega boom in the civil aviation sector with people flying in record numbers post pandemic as government lines up more capital for expansion and growth

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The domestic aviation sector has seen it all. From the highs of 2019 when over 14.41 crore passengers flew within the country to a complete shutdown of airports and the aviation sector in mid-2020. Amidst Covid-related restrictions, the aviation sector struggled through 2020 and 2021. But not today. Already, the airports in Delhi and Mumbai (that handle the lion's share of domestic passengers) are overflowing. Advisories have been issued to the passengers to show up at least 3.5 hours before the scheduled departure time to avoid the chaos at the airport.

During the January-October 2022 period, domestic air carriers carried nearly 10 crore passengers, up from 6.2 crore during the year-ago period, an annual growth of 59 per cent, the civil aviation regulator said. By the time the passenger traffic figures for November and December 2022 come out, experts believe the domestic aviation sector would have matched the highs of 2019 or thereabout.

In 2023, the aviation sector is expected to boom and break all records. Why? More airports are being modernised that are scheduled to handle enhanced flights. Regional connectivity is getting stronger with every passing quarter. This will further fuel the number of passengers flying within the country, especially from smaller centres. More aircrafts have been ordered by the carriers, some of which will be delivered during the course of 2023. Erstwhile Jet Airways, that is waiting to launch operations, is expected to start operations.

Union aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said recently that the India's aviation sector is expanding rapidly and the overall fleet size is expected to almost double in the next five years. "In five years we are looking at 1,200 fleet size in the country which will be almost double of the current number of 700 aircraft," Scindia said. He expects 400 million passengers annually in 7-10 years from the current 200 million.

More passengers will mean more airports, more aircrafts and better aviation infrastructure. That is why the aviation minister is confident that the country’s civil aviation sector may draw investments worth about Rs 95,000 crore from the government and the private sector in the next four years. He said these investments will be on development of greenfield as well as brownfield airports.

Greenfield Airports
Under the Greenfield Airports Policy, the government has so far accorded 'in-principle' approval for setting up of 21 greenfield airports across the country namely, Mopa in Goa, Navi Mumbai, Shirdi and Sindhudurg (Maharashtra),

Kalaburagi, Vijayapura, Hassan and Shivamogga (Karnataka), Dabra in Madhya Pradesh, Kushinagar and Jewar (Uttar Pradesh), Dholera and Hirasar (Gujarat), Karaikal in Puducherry, Dagadarthi, Bhogapuram and Oravakal (Andhra Pradesh), Durgapur (West Bengal), Pakyong in Sikkim, Kannur in Kerala and Donyi Polo, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh across the country. Out of these, 10 greenfield airports have been operationalised.

Regional Connectivity
To stimulate regional air connectivity and make air travel affordable for the masses the Centre had launched the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) - UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) in 2016. The scheme provides connectivity to unserved and underserved airports via the revival of the existing airstrips and airports. As of 30.11.2022, after four rounds of bidding under UDAN, 453 routes have commenced, operationalising 70 airports including two water aerodromes and nine heliports. More than 2.15 lakh UDAN flights have operated and over 1.1 crore passengers have availed the benefits of UDAN flights so far, the aviation ministry said. Aviation minister Scindia also said that regional airports will drive the next growth phase in Indian aviation history. "Regional airports will play a significant role in the next phase of growth of the country’s aviation industry. Look at the non-metro airports, their growth rate, which was 10.8 per cent in 2010-15, has today grown to almost 31 per cent,” Scindia said. “The growth rate at metro airports from 2010-15 was about 7.8 per cent. That has pretty much stayed the same in the last six to seven years at 8-9 per cent," he added.

What’s in store for 2023
Under the Digi Yatra policy, passengers will experience a seamless and hassle-free movement at airports without the need for verification of ticket and ID at multiple touch points. Digi Yatra has been launched by Civil Aviation ministry on 01.12.2022 at Delhi, Bengaluru and Varanasi Airports. The implementation at Kolkata, Pune, Vijayawada, and Hyderabad Airports is planned by March 2023. It is to be implemented across all the airports in a phased manner. Digi Yatra App is available at android as well as IoS platform.