India poised to be third biggest aviation market by 2020: Ajit Singh

Panjim (Goa), Dec.3 : Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has said that India is poised to be the third biggest aviation market in the world by 2020.

Addressing the members of consultative committee attached to his ministry here, he expressed the hope that as per growth projections, air passenger traffic is estimated to double by 2019-20.

"India is the ninth largest aviation market in the world and is poised to be the third biggest by 2020. Indian aviation market witnessed rapid growth in the decade ending 2012-13. Air traffic passenger throughput at Indian airports recorded a CAGR of 13.8 percent during the current decade," Singh said.

Admitting that recently there has been a slowdown with passenger throughput at Indian airports declining to 159.40 million in 2012-13 from 162.30 million in 2011-12,Singh, however, said passenger traffic has picked up again in the second quarter of the current year.

He said growth notwithstanding, the Indian airline industry is presently going through a severe economic crisis, with combined reported estimated losses of Rs.9771 crores and a debt of Rs.85,865 crores in fiscal 2012-13.

He attributed this to the spiralling cost of air turbine fuel, economic slow-down, devaluation of rupee, low yield, high operational costs and the consequent widening gap between revenue and expenditure.

Singh informed members of the many initiatives taken by the Centre to revive sector, including opening up of FDI by airlines up to 49 per cent, permission to import ATF directly by the airlines, approval of TAP/FRP of Air India and a more liberalized policy regime.

He said the decision to permit foreign carriers to invest in the airline industry in India has already resulted in three major investment proposals getting fructified.

"These investments along with the adoption of international best practices in management and technology in the airline industry are expected to lay the foundations of a sound turnaround of the aviation industry in India," he claimed.

Briefing the committee on the turn around plan for national carrier Air India, the minister said that till date, the government has infused an equity of Rs.12200 crores in the last three years.

"Equity infusion by the government has been linked to achievement of certain milestones like OTP, Yield and PLF etc. by Air India. AI's performance has been improving constantly and it has been meeting most milestones laid out in the TAP," Singh said.

Consultative committee members raised a number of issues, including improvement in the air connectivity between Delhi and Chandigarh, delay in the conversion of foreign pilot licence, identification of reasons for the loss to Air India, promotion of Pawan Hans for connectivity in remote areas, inappropriate behaviour of AI employees while reporting sick at a very short notice, direct connectivity of Bhubaneswar to China, Japan, Bangkok and Indonesia to promote Buddhist tourism, air connectivity between Jammu and Kargil and logistical problem at Indore airport.

Officials of the ministry, the Airports Authority of India and Air India placed clarifications on the issues and assured them of looking into the matter appropriately.

Members of Parliament who attended the meeting included Avatar Singh, Anandrao Vithova Adsul, K. C. Tyagi, R. P. Rudi, Ashok Argal, Dr. Prasanna K Patasani, Hasan Khan, Sumitra Mahajan, Mithilesh Kumar, Avinash Rai Khanna and P. Goverdhan Reddy.

--ANI (Posted on 03-12-2013)

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