India's Civil Aviation agenda aims for new heights with a vision for a $290 Billion spend to put 2,000 aircraft in the skies by 2040, a $13.6 Billion sectoral investment to fund 100 new airports in 5 years, a Delhi-Jewar airport combine bigger than Heathrow-Stanstead-Gatwick
Projected investment of about 1,00,000 crore ($13.6 billion) in India's aviation sector over the next five years provides the backdrop for Wings India 2020 – billed as Asia's largest civil aviation show – at Hyderabad from March 12 to 15, where business leaders from across the globe will gather to prospect opportunity.
The big policy driver for India's civil aviation sector is the UDAN Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) aimed at making air travel affordable and accessible to the common man in small town India, and the concomitant programme to at least double the number of airports in the next five years. The airport count at the moment is 75. Some official statements put the target for new airports by 2024 at 100.
The airport statistics bring out the urgency for creating new infrastructure which is aimed at driving growth in air passenger traffic from 315 million to 1.1 billion by 2040. While 75 airports came up across India in 75 years, as many as 56 additional airports and 31 heliports have been awarded in the first 16 months of the UDAN scheme.
100 per cent FDI in both greenfield and brownfield airport projects create huge opportunity for foreign investors. The Government of India's Airport Authority of India by itself will invest $3.5 billion over the next five years in airport and related infrastructure. The land requirement for this ambitious expansion plan is about 1.5 lakh hectares.
To gear up for the rapid expansion in traffic, scheduled Indian carriers, which collectively fly 587 aircraft at the moment, plan adding 900 aircraft in their fleets in the next five years alone. India is slated to be the world's third largest market in terms of air passenger traffic by 2022.
"My projection indicates that not only will we have 2,000 aircraft in the sky soon, but in the coming years Delhi and Jewar airport combine will be bigger than Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted combination, which handle 140 million passengers," India's Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said at a curtain raiser event for Wings India 2020 in New Delhi in January. India recently awarded the contract for the development of a second airport for Delhi NCR at Jewar to the Zurich Airport consortium.
"Delhi airport today is literally bursting and wants to grow. Even if we have a fourth runway, we may handle a traffic of 100 million people," the Civil Aviation Minister said. With a current penetration level of 7-8 per cent in the Civil Aviation sector, policy is being tailored to drive up this figure to as high as 15-to-25 per cent in the near future, the Minister indicated.
TO GEAR UP FOR THE RAPID EXPANSION IN TRAFFIC, SCHEDULED INDIAN CARRIERS, WHICH COLLECTIVELY FLY 587 AIRCRAFT AT THE MOMENT, PLAN ADDING 900 AIRCRAFT IN THEIR FLEETS IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS ALONE. INDIA IS SLATED TO BE THE WORLD'S THIRD LARGEST MARKET IN TERMS OF AIR PASSENGER TRAFFIC BY 2022
Puri expressed optimism that the current turbulence being faced by operators and the collapse of Jet Airways – till recently India's largest commercial airline with a passenger share of 22.6 per cent – would not cloud the long-term prospects for this sector.
"In spite of turbulence in the sector, particularly characterised by the cessation of operations of one air carrier, between December 2018 and April 2019, the sector has registered a growth of 11.03 per cent on a year-on-year basis for November 2019," he said.
Official estimates peg Indian civil aviation requirements at 2,100 aircraft worth $290 billion over the next 20 years. "Three hundred business jets, 300 small aircraft and 250 helicopters are expected to be added to the current fleet of Indian carriers in the next five years," according to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary Ministry of Civil Aviation put the cumulative number of all types of aircraft in the civil aviation pool at 622 as in March 2018. This is projected to go up to 2,359 by March 2040, she corroborated.
Minister Puri also reaffirmed the Government's commitment to privatise Air India. "We are currently in the process of a privatisation programme for our flight carriers. According to projections, privatisation will strengthen the civil aviation sector and contribute to the expansion of the sector both in the short and medium term," he said.
Puri also highlighted the growing importance of drones and the setting up of a regulatory mechanism to enable unmanned flights.
With India aiming for a spot in the top 5 global air freight markets by 2025, Wings India 2020 is also set to give due prominence to the Air Cargo and Logistics segment, which is already a strong enabler for e-commerce operations like Amazon.
Asia's biggest Civil Aviation show at Hyderabad – India's premier aviation industry hub – will also be a platform for addressing environmental concerns by highlighting the commitment to environmentally sustainable air travel, ensuring solar powered airports and induction of energy efficient aircraft in accordance with the Green Aviation Policy 2019.
"WingsIndia 2020 is all set to showcase an exceptional forum of Civil Aviation for new business acquisitions, investments and regional connectivity. More than 150 exhibitors, conferences, networking dinners and aerobatic displays await your presence," an official statement added.
A Global CEOs Forum will be a highlight of the show. "This is an unparalleled platform for aviation companies to explore the networking and expansion opportunities in the presence of Hon'ble Minister of Civil Aviation, Mr Hardeep Puri," the organisers stated.
The event will provide a fillip to the aviation and restructured focused forums will be instrumental in attaining the objective of connecting the buyers, sellers, investors and other stakeholders at a common forum. Conference Sessions on cargo, logistics and security, drones, helicopters and general aviation are also on the agenda.
Besides an elaborate exhibition and static displays of commercial, business, regional and cargo aircraft, a flying display by a British team is also slated at the event. Wings India Awards will be announced on March 12 to give recognition to Aviation Centres which have redefined flying in India.
With 150 exhibitors having confirmed participation, Wings India 2020 is slated to be bigger than the previous edition in terms of participation and exhibition. Over 700 delegates from 10 countries showed up for Wings India 2018. Fourteen airlines were represented at the show which hosted 285 G2B meetings. The 15 aircraft on static display included the saw Phenom 300, Legacy 500, ATR 72, ATR 600 and Dornier.
Pitching big as an investment destination will be the host state of Telangana. At the curtain raiser event, Telangana Industries & IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao promised clearances for investment proposals within 30 days by the state government. Besides the promotion of Hyderabad as an aviation industry hub, Rao spoke about plans for greenfield airports and reactivation of old airports and heliports.