MOCA aspires for billion trips

Jayant Sinha, Minister of State, Civil Aviation, claims that with the growing demand for air travel in India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) is planning for 1 billion passenger trips in the next 15-20 years.

Nisha Verma

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) has witnessed an extraordinary growth over the last 50 months, claims Jayant Sinha, Minister of State (MoS) for Civil Aviation. “With around 500 million trips in the next 15-20 years, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecasted a humongous growth for Indian aviation. However, we are preparing for a billion trips in this period as we are seeing an extraordinary demand for air travel in India. The challenge lies not in demand but on the necessary supply and infrastructure to cater to the billion trips.”

The reason behind this strong demand, according to Sinha, is the extraordinary value proposition for air travel in India. He informs, “The price of flying in India, which is amongst the lowest in the world despite the high cost, is somewhere at `4 per km. People are travelling long distances in great comfort and safety but at affordable prices, and that’s precisely why we have unlocked this demand. Now, the challenge is to be able to meet this demand.”

We are currently building new terminals at 12-15 airports besides working on a host of new greenfield airports in cities like Jewar, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Patna, etc

Airport development

Though aviation sector is performing well, Sinha pointed out some challenges that MOCA has identified, out of which one is airport infrastructure. “While planning an airport in the past, a 3-5 year view was considered, but we are contemplating on a 15-20 year view now. Through the highly-progressive NextGen Airports for Bhrat (NABH) Nirman programme, we are also actively planning for a billion trips by making our existing airports more productive. Secondly, we need to expand and upgrade our existing airports by adding more terminals. We are currently building new terminals at 12-15 airports. Apart from that, we are building a host of new greenfield airports in cities like Jewar, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Patna, etc. We have the consultation underway to figure out what is the best possible way of regulating new greenfield airports. We’ve proposed a transparent and innovative approach to do that on a passenger-yield basis. Once we use the new approach, people will be willing to step forward and make large-scale investments in these new greenfield airports,” reveals Sinha.

Regulation

MOCA is also working to ensure that the airline industry dynamics, cost structure and regulation is as competitive and stable as possible. “The top priority is to get ATF under GST, and then we can deal with the anomalies under the tax structure. Furthermore, there are other tax issues we are working on and are trying to ensure that the airline industry has access to the widest range of financing instruments possible,” Sinha notifies.

Technology

This is another area under which MOCA is making moves. “We are introducing ‘Digiyatra’ to process people’s movements efficiently through airports. Another area where we have applied technology is air traffic management, and we believe that as we progress, we will have the most advanced air traffic management systems in the world,” he explains.

“He also shares, “We have recently introduced a drone policy which has led to Uber considering India as one of the five countries where they will launch Uber Elevate. We want drones to be made in India, including all the hardware, software and the services that go along with this vast new ecosystem,” added Sinha.

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