By Imran Khan
Looking at the burgeoning demand for air travel in India, V P Agarwal, Chairman, Airports Authority of India (AAI), said, “India would require 200 airports by 2020 for general aviation purpose.” He was speaking on the sidelines of the recently concluded CAPA (Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation) India Aviation Summit 2012. Elaborating on the subject, he said, “The growth in general aviation would benefit the aviation industry in Tier-II and Tier-III cities as a significant part of general aviation travel is focused on infrequently connected airports. By 2020, the Indian general aviation fleet is expected to reach 2000 from 680 today; growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent. The direct and indirect economic contribution of general aviation could be close to USD four billion per annum by 2020.”
Further he revealed that modernisation of 60 non-metro airports has been decided by AAI, out of which development of 35 airports have been undertaken. The modernisation work for 27 airports has been completed, whereas, work for airports like Khajuraho, Ranchi, Bhubaneshwar and Jaisalmer is expected to be completed by end of this year. Besides this, Raipur airport in Chhattisgarh is expected to be inaugurated by Pranab Mukherjee, President of India on November 7, 2012. Furthermore, planning is underway to start work for Goa, Vadodra, Imphal and Port Blair airports.
He stated that AAI has undertaken development of a greenfield airport at Pakyong in Sikkim with a target date of completion by June, 2013. Besides this, greenfield airports planned at Kohima in Nagaland and Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh are also in process.
“India is one of the fastest growing economies globally with an average GDP growth of over 8.9 per cent in last five years. Aviation is an important part of national infrastructure and is one of the prime movers for economic growth and employment generation. Air transport has grown at twice the rate of GDP. For past several years the growth has been impressive with international passengers growing at CAGR of over 14 per cent and domestic at almost 22 per cent,” he added.
At present India has 454 operational and non-operational airports / airstrips, wherein, AAI operates 125 airports, which includes 14 international airports, 80 domestic airports, 12 custom airports and 19 other civil enclaves.