Nov 26, 2010
|By Neelam Mathews|
| With India’s domestic traffic set to surpass 50 million passengers for the first time this year, growth presents opportunities but also challenges – including safety – that will need to be managed, says Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel. |
Despite hurdles, India could be an aviation hub as it reaches the critical mass necessary to make projects economically viable, Patel said at an aviation seminar held in New Delhi.
Director General of Civil Aviation Nasim Zaidi said the U.S. FAA has approved his agency to certify products. The agreement, that will permit export of products from India, will be signed in 6-8 weeks, he says.
“There will be a huge demand for general aviation, helicopters … India will have an enabling policy element in terms of foreign investment,” Zaidi said.
Meanwhile, there is a capacity mismatch in the Indian market as the supply of aircraft does not meet demand. “Airlines must bear the responsibility to caution against predatory pricing … We have to protect the interest of consumers,” said Patel.
Demand will continue to grow quickly for the next 3-4 years. “I don’t see supply keeping up,” said Sam Sridharan, chief operating officer of SpiceJet. “Besides, all the [new] capacity will not be for the domestic market as most Indian carriers will divert some of the capacity to international routes,” Sridharan noted.
Sridharan emphasized the need for building infrastructure at the right price. Delhi’s terminal three “is a Taj Mahal we do not need … We’re looking for efficient infrastructure that is cost effective without burdening consumers ,” he said.
According to Patel, who is responsible for the clearance of Mumbai’s second airport, India needs 400 airports – compared to around 100 now. Patel also said that in the near future there will be a push for Pune airport to be privatized.
“Lack of an integrated policy for non-metro airports has created issues with a lack of state government support and cost sharing,” said Virender Singh of Reliance Airports. Boeing India President Dinesh Keskar stressed that traffic between secondary city pairs is growing.