More airport infrastructure has to be built to meet the fast-growing aviation industry
Yunus Dar | New Delhi
India’s domestic air passenger volume stood at 126.77 million in fiscal 2019, registering a growth of 14.27 per cent over the previous year, according to the data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The International Air Transport Association (IATA) last month released a report saying the number of India’s air travellers will triple by the year 2037. The report called for urgent improvement in air transportation infrastructure to handle the growing rush.
India is currently the world’s fastest growing aviation market, with air traffic registering a 200 per cent growth in the last five years. However, the shortage of airport infrastructure and the sluggish pace of modernisation of non-metro airports is posing a tremendous challenge for the country. Airports at metro cities are unable to handle the growing rush, with most airports unable to handle heavy aircraft movement. Terminals are registering unprecedented rush with huge queues at security checks, immigration desks and clearances.
In its paper titled ‘Aviation Facilitation and Security Priorities for Enhancing the Passenger Journey at Airports in India’, IATA said India needs to do away with stamping procedures at airports and allow mobile boarding pass (MBP), adopt automation for both departure and arrivals, adhere to global standards for advance passenger information, relocate hand luggage screening (for international arrivals) and adopt a risk-based approach instead of 100 per cent screening transmission.
The paper argued that improving processes should be considered a primary solution as infrastructure capacity expansion cannot keep up with the speed of traffic growth. However, in most Indian airports, several processes remain manual and are not so efficient, e.g. requiring stamping on boarding pass at multiple touch points, added the report.
Airports Council International (ACI) World, which asseses the quality of service at airports globally, revealed the winners of its world-renowned Airport Service Quality Awards in March 2019. India’s Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore, won the first ever ASQ Arrivals Award, based on the new Arrivals Survey – the first airport in the world to win both a Departures and an Arrivals award. ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) is the only globally-established programme that provides objective measurement and benchmarking for airports.
The ASQ Departures programme measures passengers’ satisfaction across 34 key performance indicators. Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh International Airport, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad and Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport, Indore together won nine ASQ awards in four categories. The average ASQ rating of AAI airports for the year 2018 improved to 4.64 from 4.57 in 2017, with the world average increasing from 4.19 to 4.21. The rankings show how these airports have responded to the evolving needs of passengers to deliver higher levels of service and performance over the years.
According to the Airports Council International (ACI) report, India in 2018 became the world’s third-largest aviation market, overtaking Japan. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport was ranked the busiest airport in India and 12th in the world. The Skytrax World Airport Awards ranked it the 59th best airport in the world. Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport was ranked at 64th position globally, and Rajiv Gandhi Hyderabad International Airport ranked 66th, while Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport was the 69th best airport.
The UDAN Scheme
The Modi government sought to transform the aviation sector in India with a number of initiatives, UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) being one of them. The scheme, announced in October 2016, is one of the flagship schemes of the Modi government that offers subsidised flights at Rs 2,500 per hour of flight. The total subsidy outlay under the first phase of the scheme was Rs 214 crore per annum, which increased to Rs 500 crore annually under the second phase.
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