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Suresh Prabhu exhorts state govt to work in tandem with Centre on UDAN

PW Bureau

Prabhu said that in order to make air travel affordable and accessible to the common man, states would have to be an integral partner of the scheme and join hands with airlines and other stakeholders New Delhi: Stressing on the role that states will play in the regional connectivity scheme, dubbed UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik), Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu said that states across the country will be the beneficiaries of the government’s plan to expand air routes and make air travel affordable for flyers, airport operators and airlines. Inaugurating the third edition of Wings 2019, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) jointly with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), on Thursday, Prabhu advised state government to board the ‘Udan’ regional connectivity scheme to give a fillip to intra-regional and inter-regional air connectivity and realise the growth benefits from the multiplier effect of travel and tourism.
“It is the states where the action is. It is they who will have to drive the process and become beneficiaries of growth.”
While observing that both the Centre and state should have a common platform for expanding aviation sector, he said every problem of the sector is “our” problem “because when people vote for the central government or state government, the voters are the same, it is just that they choose different governments.”

‘States need to be an integral partner’

Prabhu said that in order to make air travel affordable and accessible to the common man, states would have to be an integral partner of the scheme and join hands with airlines and other stakeholders. “It is the states where the action is. It is they who will have to drive the process and become beneficiaries of growth,” he said. The states, he said, would have to think big and envisage the facility of having wide-bodied aircraft take off and land from their airports. Such an approach will provide the tailwinds to the Indian aviation sector that has the potential to become the country’s growth engine.

Prabhu releases paper on Indian aviation sector

Prabhu also released a knowledge Paper, ‘Indian aviation: Bracing to ride out headwinds,’ prepared by FICCI and Deloitte. The knowledge Paper, based on earlier industry interactions with the stakeholders, recommends that to ensure that the regional aviation market is sustainable in the long run, there was a need to bridge the gap in the requirement of skilled manpower in aviation industry; bring more focus to air cargo operations, upgrade the physical infrastructure in a big way and exploit all avenues of growth for the sector to thrive in the decade to come.

Highlights of the paper

The paper notes that the Government of India, through the National Skill Development Council (NSDC), is already looking at a host of initiatives to involve the industry in some of the programs launched to bridge the gap in skilled manpower. The government could also consider supporting a comprehensive program to impart the requisite knowledge and skills specifically for the aviation industry, such as government-sponsored apprenticeship programs for the industry.
Building on the government initiatives already launched, the program must help enable faster adoption of online platforms for tracking and capturing air cargo movement.
The government must also focus on the air cargo segment and could look at implementing a policy framework on the lines of ‘UDAN’ scheme wherein freighter operations are incentivized just like passenger flows. The program could also possibly look at incentivizing air cargo movement from unconnected areas of the country. Building on the government initiatives already launched, the program must help enable faster adoption of online platforms for tracking and capturing air cargo movement. Likewise, in order to sustain viability of a number of routes and for the demand to mature at regional airports, proactive actions are required on the part of both the states and communities. Such actions could include creating Regional Connectivity Forums for risk sharing and marketing of routes through tourism departments of various state governments in collaboration with hospitality industry and look at airport-centred urban development and promotion of General Aviation. Above all, these efforts would not amount to much without the development of necessary infrastructure at airport terminals, the paper points out.