New Delhi: Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Friday said 75 new airports have been built in the last ten years as part of the Narendra Modi government's vision to bring air travel within the reach of a vast number of common citizens and asserted the key sector was on the upswing and still holds a lot of potential.
Earlier people only heard about airlines getting shut down in India, but now things have changed and new air carriers are being established to make flying accessible to citizens, he said.
Scindia was speaking at the formal inauguration of the aircraft Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) facility of AAR-Indamer at Mihan SEZ in Nagpur. He said the facility's inauguration was a very important event in the history of MRO evolution in India.
"This event is significant in many ways as it signifies the coming of age of civil aviation in India. Civil aviation has enjoyed a historical journey in India and the sector is over 100 years old. But, it is now that the sector has assumed tremendous scale and offers vast opportunities," said the minister.
He said India's civil aviation sector had only 400 aircraft ten years ago, but the number has grown to 713 planes at the last count and more will be added going forward.
The minister informed that Air India, now a private entity, has place orders for 470 aircraft -- 250 from Airbus and 220 from Boeing, while leading carrier IndiGo is buying 500 planes, reflecting vast potential in the aviation sector.
These orders are historical not just for India, but also international aviation, he said.
"Four new airlines have been born out of the vision delineated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His vision is very clear -- to bring the common man into flying space and sow seeds of development in their lives. Make the impossible possible," he said.
A few decades ago, people in India only heard about about airlines getting shut down, he said.
"The Indian aviation industry is on the upswing from the perspective of all stakeholders. As many as 75 new airports have been built in the last ten years, taking the total count to 149 airports (include helipads and aerodromes). Our vision is to take this milestone 149 to 220 airports in the next 5 to 7 years. We have Rs 1 lakh crore capex plan in place," he said.
Scindia air traffic passenger, which was close to 6 crore per annum ten years ago, has now grown by 130 percent.
Asia, where India is located, will have by year 2040 close to 50 per cent of all international passenger traffic, up from the current level of 37 per cent, said the minister.
Scindia said the MRO sector is growing by leaps and bounds, aided by India's engineering talent. He said the new facility is a historic joint venture between the oldest MRO (Indamer of India) and the largest MRO (AAR of the USA) and congratulated both the partners.
Scindia said the aviation ministry should play the role of not just a regulator but facilitator.
He said Boeing, along with GMR Aero Technic, is establishing a new facility for converting Boeing passenger jets into freight aircraft for the cargo sector in India.
Scindia said in the next 10 to 15 days, Boeing is going to inaugurate its largest engineering and design facility outside the USA, in Bengaluru, at a cost of almost USD 200 million.
AAR-Indamer (MRO) Director Prajay Patel, speaking to reporters after the inauguration, said their target is to do maintenance and repair of foreign aircraft along with local ones.
"The local aviation ecosystem will also get a boost. We are planning for a training institute, we have achieved 100 C-check milestones. Local infrastructure, local vendors suppliers have realised their is a market here, along with those material which comes from from abroad, local Procurement is also done," Patel said.