New Delhi/Gandhinagar: India needs to have more participants in the aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) sector which presents a lot of opportunities with increasing number of aircraft in the country, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation VK Singh said in Gandhinagar on Wednesday.
The government was trying hard to encourage the MRO sector, he said at a seminar on Aircraft/Ancillary Manufacturing and MRO Opportunities at the 10th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.
India has an excellent ecosystem for the growth of the aviation sector with a huge traffic, 1,000 more aircrafts being added and the number of operational airports rising to 149 from 70 a decade ago, Singh said.
"We want more participation in MRO, and talk aggressively to players abroad to invest in India as JV or in any other way but bring it in India. There is a lot of scope in the sector, and a lot requires to be done. Whatever exists now is very small, whether it is for civil or military application," the Minister said.
The government is trying hard to encourage the sector and believes that it needs to be encouraged and strengthened so that aeroplanes do not have to go abroad for major maintenance, he said.
"We need to have our own MROs in India. And we believe that a lot is possible within the country. MRO is USD 2 billion business," he said, adding that the government has reduced the Goods and Services Tax on domestic MRO services to 5 percent from 18 percent, and removed the GST on export duty.
Import duty on special tools and equipment has been removed, and waiver has also been provided on custom duty on spare parts. Even the foreign direct investment has been permitted in the sector, he added.
"We have tried to create an ecosystem to promote MRO, and it is up to you (to invest). We have asked airlines placing orders for aircrafts to pressurise these companies (to invest) in India," Singh said.
"There is also a need to train people who could get expertise in maintenance, and are ready for MRO which invest in the country so that they do not find shortage of technical manpower," he said.
In the last ten years, the government has come up with a new civil aviation policy and drone policy which liberalised the sector, the minister said.
"We also made a policy for helicopter (manufacturing). In such a large country, we have around 240 helicopters. You have a great opportunity to set up a helicopter company," Singh said.
Flight training organisations have been liberalised which has helped train more pilots with a cheaper investment, he said. "There is no shortage of pilots, but that of commanders. We have the highest number of women pilots in the entire world," he added.
The Udan scheme for regional connectivity has democratised air traffic due to the addition of new airlines and smaller aircrafts for which there is a huge space in Indian markets, Singh said.
The government has paid a lot of attention to air cargo, and it has increased significantly than before, he said.