Milestone achievements in aviation
SETTING RECORDS: Mumbai airport recently created a new world record for single-run-way airports.
The dramatic changes occurring in the Indian civil aviation sector are all set to transform the business
By Nithin Belle
Published: Thu 25 Jan 2018, 11:00 PM
Last updated: Sun 28 Jan 2018, 7:00 PM
The civil aviation sector in India is flying high, thanks both to the efforts of the government to dismantle state control over airports and operators, and to airlines for putting in all their efforts to cater to the growing demand from passengers.
Not surprisingly, 2017 was a record year for the Indian civil aviation sector. Mumbai airport, for instance, created a new world record for single-runway airports, handling 969 take-offs and landings in just 24 hours in November.
The airport, one of the busiest in India, handles more than 900 flights daily and airlines - both domestic and international - are eager to operate from flights from there.
According to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), Mumbai handles more than 50 flight movements in an hour, which is next only to Gatwick in London (another single-runway airport), which handles slightly more.
Another major breakthrough was achieved in December, when IndiGo, the country's largest and fastest-growing low-cost carrier announced that it operates 1,000 flights daily.
"A thousand daily flights is a milestone that no airline in India has ever achieved before," said Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole Time Director, IndiGo. "As Indians we are proud to create this new record. While 1,000 is just a number, for us each flight represents an opportunity for millions to chase their dreams."
The other major private carrier, SpiceJet also witnessed an amazing turnaround in 2017. The budget airline, which had faced problems about three years ago, became the world's best-performing airline stock last year.
In late June, its stock price had soared by almost 125 per cent during the first six months of 2017, and it emerged as 'the best performer' on the Bloomberg Intelligence Index.
Ajay Singh, Chairman, SpiceJet, noted that India's civil aviation sector has great opportunities for expansion as just three per cent of Indians fly. The airline had placed an order worth $22 billion for Boeing aircraft, a move that was hailed by American President Donald Trump.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said recently that the policy changes introduced in the aviation sector by his government had resulted in ordinary persons also enjoying the benefits of air travel.
The government, under its regional air connectivity programme, the Udan scheme, has ensured that hour-long flights are priced at around Rs2,500. This is expected to generate air traffic among scores of smaller towns across India.
Jayant Sinha, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation said that 100 new airports will be developed in India over the next 15 years, doubling the total number of airports. Total investments in the new airports will add up to a whopping Rs4 trillion.
CAPA estimates that Indian airlines would induct nearly 400 aircraft over the next five years to meet the growing demand from passengers.
India's domestic passenger traffic topped the 100 million-mark in 2017, reaching 106 million in the January-November period. This was a 17.27 per cent jump over the corresponding figures for the previous year, according to the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Earlier this month, the Indian government also liberalised and simplified the FDI norms for civil aviation, allowing foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent even in Air India, which has been making losses and the government is keen to divest its stake in the carrier.
"It has now been decided to do away with this restriction and allow foreign airlines to invest up to 49 per cent under approval route in Air India subject to the conditions that foreign investments in Air India including that of foreign airlines shall not exceed 49 per cent either directly or indirectly," said a government statement.
Indeed, the dramatic changes that are occurring in the Indian civil aviation sector promises to transform this business over the coming years, making it one of the fastest-growing markets for the high-flying industry.