Minister of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India at the ICC Annual Session & AGM FYI 2020-2021
Indian Chamber of Commerce, one of the leading national chambers of India, organized its Annual Session in the presence of Shri Jyotiraditya Scindia, Hon’ble Minister of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India. The theme of the session was “How we envisage the future of air connectivity in our country and internationally.”
Hon’ble Minister started in his speech today thanking the President of Indian Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Vikash Agarwal for inviting him to be one of the Guest speakers and for choosing such a relevant topic of discussion.
There has been a paradigm shift in the foundation of civil aviation, over the last 20-30 years. Civil aviation was considered a restricted mode of transport always for the egalitarian and upper crust of the society and not a mass mode of travel. Hence in the last 70 years India had only 74 airports built for a country with close to 1.5 billion people and it was limited primarily to Tier 1 & Tier 2 cities till 2014. This has changed and globalization has resulted in this paradigm shift completely in the aviation sector. Focus has shifted into a hyper localized format and that’s been a phenomena across the world. The world has shrunk, interdependence has increased and that’s where connectivity plays a crucial role. Connectivity is not about bringing people close together and reducing the gap, it also results in an introduction to a new environment, market, growth of businesses &industries etc. Time has become all the more precious for everyone, reaching a location in the shortest period of time is now a priority across the world.
Today connectivity is one of the key drivers of growth in our country. The Minister added that civil aviation is changing the overall landscape and have added to the growth parameters. Keeping in mind, our PM Hon’ble Sri Narendra Modi’s “Loktantrikaran of Yatayat’ initiative, i.e. democratization of travel through proliferation of airports, through greater connectivity, multi model transport capabilities. All these have transported us to where we are today from where we were. So far in a period of 7 years 62 airports have been built as against building 74 airports in 70 years. The target is to build 220 airports by 2025 that includes heliports and water ports as well. Tomorrow the PM will lay the foundation stone for Jewar international airport which is going to become the largest airport in the entire Asia.
During the period of 2014-2019 the growth in travel numbers has been close to 89 percent. India has jumped from 7th to 4thposition in this period and the day is not far when No. 1 position will be achieved.
Tier 1 cities have attained maturity in terms of growth. Civil aviation growth in the country will now be driven by tier 2 & tier 3 cities like Darbhanga, Jharsuguda and others. These smaller cities have tremendous potential. The focus of the ministry is to string India together. Connectivity to the 7 sisters of India, Jammu & Kashmir is also the prime focus. The ministry has recently connected Srinagar internationally to Sharjah.
There is a robust target in the coming 100 days, by either laying the foundation stone of anyof the 5 new airports or 6 new heliports, 50 new routes under UDAAN scheme by December 15th, proliferating this last mile connectivity under civil aviation.
He further commented that the helicopter space is completely untapped potential in India. The ministry has come up with a new helicopter policy to give an impetus to the sector by removing all parking and landing charges, RNFP charges and introduced a ‘Heliseva Portal’ for better and easy clearance. The ministry in association with surface transport ministry is also planning to set up a Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) and 3 expressways with helipads to support in times of accidents. Passengers can be evacuated within 7 minutes to hospitals. Private players should come forward from insurance point of view to be able to make this a viable proposition.
Along with regional connectivity, there has to be a renewed focus on international connectivity. Profitability of civil aviation will be defined by long haul operations. Today economic integration is also defined by connectivity. Connectivity from the North East is extremely crucial. This has to go hand-in-hand with Ministry of Tourism.
In terms of employment perspective, this industry creates direct as well indirect employment. Building a single airport acts as a great economic multiplier. There is likely to be a 7-fold increase in economic activity around the region where an airport comes up.
Hon’ble Minister, Sri. Jyotiraditya M. Scindia further added and stated that Govt. of West Bengal should come forward in increasing number of airports and developing air connectivity in Bengal as he believes that Bengal is a key hub of connectivity to the entire North East and also Southern part of India & Bangladesh.
He ended his speech saying that his Ministry is working closely with other ministries to curate new avenues for the aviation industry and reduce the exciting challenges faced by the stakeholders involved.