India, the fastest growing civil aviation market in the world, intends to add 100-120 aircraft every year to meet the growing demand, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Friday.
Addressing the Wings India 2022 at Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad, he said that India is looking at tremendous expansion in areas of airlines, airports and every facet of the civil aviation eco-system.
He said that fleet augmentation is also important for the sector. The country, which had 400 aircraft in 2013-14, has grown its fleet to 710 aircraft in the last seven years. "We added 310 aircraft. We intend to add 100-120 aircraft every year as we go forward," he said.
Scindia also urged the airlines to increase the fleet of wide-bodied aircraft along with their thrust on narrow-bodied aircraft. "It is not enough to connect all points in India. We need to connect the world to India. Therefore, the Indian flag carriers should increase long-haul aircraft to touch every corner of the world."
He said that the aviation sector has emerged stronger, fitter and is ready to face challenges and opportunities. As India celebrates 75 years of independence and aims to emerge as a new powerful nation in next 25 years, civil aviation has extremely important role to play, he added.
According to Scindia, a multi-pronged approach has been adopted to take the sector to new heights.
"We have a long way to go. Our penetration is close to only 8 per cent today. In a country of 135 crore people, we have only 14.5 crore travelling by civil aviation. I believe today's civil aviation is going to be tomorrow's railways in terms of transport," he said and assured the stakeholders that his ministry would be a constructive collaborator and not restrictive regulator.
Addressing special emphasis on improving infrastructure, he said that in 2013-14, India had 74 airports but in last seven years, 66 airports have been added, thus taking the total number to 140, including helipads and water aerodromes.
"By the year 2024-25, we want to take this number to 220 airports," he said.
Scindia claimed that airports in India are second to none in the world. Delhi airport has a throughput of 70 million passengers while airports at Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad cater to 25-50 million passengers.
"We are building a second airport for Delhi at Jewar. This is a very ambitious programme with close to Rs 38,000 crore worth of investment which will house close to 70 million passengers once phase 2 is completed. Similarly, a new airport in Mumbai is coming up."
Underlining the need to concentrate on regional connectivity, he said the mission of the UDAN scheme is to enable every citizen to fly.
"In telecom sector, we have seen the revolution where it moved from low volume, high margin game to high volume, low margin game. The airline sector is already there. Our initiative through UDAN is to make it accessible to common man at last-mile village in all 600,000 villages in India," he said.
He claimed that UDAN scheme connected close to 409 routes enabling about 1.75 lakh flights till date. This enabled 91 lakh people, who have never been on a plane, to fly.
The minister also listed out steps taken to boost the entire civil aviation ecosystem.
He said, the country has 34 flying training organisations. "We have already bid out and sanctioned nine new FTOs across states and in days to come we will sanction another 15 FTOs."
The minister further added that India can be a leader in the area of drones. The government has not only announced new policy but also released productivity linked incentive scheme for drones and provided airspace map.
Eight to nine line ministries have been tasked with the responsibility of using drones for every possible requirement across the country.
The minister also spoke about the impetus being given to helicopter segment by creating three dedicated corridors for helicopter traffic.