- Air Transport is the fastest mode of transport which has reduced distances and has led to drastic shrinking of the world
- This mode of transport is indispensable when speed and time are the main constraints
- Air transport is very essential for a vast country like India, where distances are so long and the terrain and climatic conditions so diverse
- Air transportation in India made a humble beginning in 1911, when mail operation commenced over a very short distance of 10km between Allahabad and Naini
- Indian national airways was formed in 1933 and it introduced air services between Karachi and Lahore
- At the time of independence, there were four companies namely Tata Sons limited/Air India, Indian National Airways, Air services of India and Deccan Airways
- This authority is responsible for providing safe and efficient air traffic services, along with aeronautical communication services for effective control of air traffic in the entire Indian air space
- It controls and manages the entire Indian space even beyond the territorial limits of the country, in accordance with the norms set by International Civil Aviation Organisation
- The International Airports division of AAI, operates and develops international Airports
- It has undertaken construction of terminal complexes at various international airports and improvement/upgradation of runways and terminal buildings
- However, the improvement of infrastructure at the airports needs heavy capital investment which the government cannot afford of its own
- Therefore, private domestic and foreign investors including NRIs have been encouraged to participate in the process of improvement
India Aviation Industry
- India had the world’s third-largest civil aviation market in 2017
- India is expected to overtake China and the United States by 2030, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
- Despite this growth, much of the country’s aviation potential remains untapped
- IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir are the major carriers in order of their market share
- The Ministry of Civil Aviationis responsible for civilian aviation, through regulatory oversight by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
- Aviation sector acts as a hub of various activities. The Airports function as a growth pole, which in turn propel growth in the region as a result of spill-over & trickledown effect
- Airways profoundly give boost to the Tourism sector, which in turn drives the supporting infrastructure in a region, like roads, railways, hotels, markets, etc.
- In addition to these, the local skills get thrust, along with the diffusion of information by way of exchange of views between tourists & locals, which further create new avenues and employment opportunities
- The patronage for ‘local art’ increases, because of air-connectivity, thereby giving a push to regional economy
- Also, increased connectivity with remote areas, might help in highlighting the local issues, which in turn can catch the attention of Government for redressal. Thus extreme regionalism and Isolation can be prevented
- Shortage of trained employee
- There is a shortage of trained and skilled manpower in the aviation sector because of which there is cut-throat competition for employees; thereby driving wages to unsustainable levels
- Regional connectivity
- Though there are a large number of airlines operating, still there is lack of regional connectivity
- Providing regional connectivity is one of the greatest challenges for the Aviation sector in India. This is due to lack of airports and other associated infrastructure
- Rising fuel prices
- The jet fuel cost accounted for nearly 45% to 50% of the total costs in 2018; thereby presenting more operational challenges
- Declining yields
- Pricing and yield are the key elements for an airline to operate
- Commercial liberalization has led to intense competition and reduction in real yields for Airline companies
- Gaps in Infrastructure
- Airport infrastructure and Air Traffic Control (ATC) foundation are insufficient to help development
- While a beginning has been made to redesign the infrastructure, the outcomes will be visible after some years.
- Technical Challenges
- The maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) industry is not well developed in India; to provide for cost-effective maintenance of Aircrafts
- The lack of native Aircraft manufacturing base, results in more imports of Aircrafts, thereby making the operations more Capital Intensive
Aviation sector under Make in India
- Aviation sector is one of the 25 sectors which has been identified under the Make in India scheme
- 100% FDI has been allowed under automatic route for both Greenfield as well as brownfield projects
- Indian airports are emulating the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Aerotropolis model to enhance revenues. The model focuses on revenues from retail, advertising, vehicle parking, security equipment, and services
Integrated National Civil Aviation Policy 2016
- To create an ecosystem to make flying affordable for the masses and to enable 30 crore domestic ticketing by 2022 and 50 crore by 2027, and international ticketing to increase to 20 crore by 2027.
- Similarly, cargo volumes should increase to 10 million tonnes by 2027
- Provide safe, secure, affordable and sustainable air travel for passengers and air transportation of cargo with access to various parts of India and the world.
- Establish an integrated eco-system which will lead to significant growth of civil aviation sector, which in turn would promote tourism, increase employment and lead to a balanced regional growth.
- Ensure safety, security and sustainability of aviation sector through the use of technology and effective monitoring.
- Enhance regional connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development.
- Enhance ease of doing business through deregulation, simplified procedures and e-governance.
- Promote the entire aviation sector chain in a harmonised manner covering cargo, MRO, general aviation, aerospace manufacturing and skill development
- The government in July 2021 announced setting up eight New flying academies across the following five airports: Belagavi and Kalaburagi in Karnataka, Jalgaon in Maharashtra, Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, and Lilabari in Assam
- The scheme is aimed at enhancing connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country and making air travel affordable
- It is a key component of Centre’s National Civil Aviation Policy, launched in 2016
- Under the scheme, nearly half of the seats in Udan flights are offered at subsidised fares, and the participating carriers are provided a certain amount of viability gap funding (VGF) –an amount shared between the Centre and the concerned states
On the whole. India seeks to pursue a dynamic aviation policy in order to make ‘aviation a force’ in the social and economic development of the country.
- In this perspective, Modernization of infrastructure should be a major policy objective
- Tourism is seen as an instrument to advance the national economy and employment for which aviation plays a major role. It will prompt the development in the aviation sector
- Despite the numerous difficulties which are being faced by the Indian aviation sector, yet the development prospects are high
- Thus, the government needs to take action to enhance the needed Infrastructure while implementing the policies to the highest of efficiencies, relating to this sector; in order to capitalise on the brilliant future the sector has in India