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India Aviation 2016 Takes Headstart

New Delhi. India’s recently resurfaced aviation industry seems all set to mark a structural turnaround in its fortunes. India’s changed international image, an improving economic environment, and recent increase in activity by the Ministry of Civil Aviation gives a feel that India’s aviation is coming of age. And the recent launch of India Aviation 2016 proved the premise.

Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, stressed that the fifth edition of the international exhibition and conference on the theme, ‘India’s Civil Aviation Sector: Potential as Global Manufacturing Hub’, will ensure that the stakeholders would get an opportunity to deliberate on policy issues with the Government representatives to unlock the huge investment potential of the sector. He said the Government would take on the role of a facilitator to provide industry the much needed impetus for accelerating the sector’s growth. He added the civil aviation sector considers safety and security as the most important aspect, and its proof was the US Federal Aviation Association’s (FAA) upgradation of Indian airlines safety rating to Category 1 under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme.

In a recent development the Government has received more than `5,814 crore ($940 million) from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the last four financial years, an amount that has come by way of dividend, dividend tax, guarantee fees, interest on Government budgetary support loan, income tax and service tax, which is a positive sign indeed.

Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Government of India, said the civil aviation sector was a key driver of India’s growth. Hence, there was a great opportunity for industry to take a lead in manufacturing aviation components. He added India has entrepreneurs who have made a radical and rational shift from manufacturing automobile components to making component for aviation and defence sector. This showed that India had the engineering capability and the sector just needed a push in the right direction for becoming a manufacturing hub in civil aviation. At a time when aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is all set to undergo the ICAO audit, the third in last nine years, in November this year and cover issues such as aerodrome operations, air traffic control, airports, and air navigation mechanism, it is ready to take up the herculean task of issuing licences to 2,000-odd Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) and over 60 aerodromes ahead of the audit.

M Sathiyavathy, Director General, DGCA, said the sector did not face any major incident in the recent past and had been granted a safety rating of Category 1 by the FAA. However, the challenge was to sustain the rating. She added DGCA would continue to oversee the measures taken by the civil aviation authorities for safety and security. DGCA had been carrying out comprehensive audits of the sector and would in future also undertake such audits and would work as a facilitator for this industry to grow.

Expecting more than 60 million international passengers by 2017 with as many as 85 international airlines connecting over 40 countries, India is all set to become the third largest aviation market by 2020. This makes it the cynosure of all eyes especially the foreign industry and investors to keep in step with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India plans. Pratyush Kumar, Chair, Civil Aviation Committee of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and President, Boeing India, said to sustain country’s GDP growth, aviation sector must grow in double digits as it has a multiplier effect on the economy. India needs to manufacture highly engineered efficient products of high quality at affordable prices to satisfy customers of the aviation sector.

He added the Government’s call for Make in India coupled with industry’s urge to grow would help in unlocking the full potential of the sector. In its recent Airline Industry Forecast, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said India will become the second fastest growing aviation market in the world by 2016. “India will have the second highest growth rate at 13.1 per cent CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) adding 49.3 million new passengers,” According to IATA, the domestic passenger traffic world over is expected to increase by 5.2 per cent and will rise from what was 1.72 billion in 2011 to 2.21 billion in 2016, with an addition of 490 million passenger over the period under review.

Dr Jyotsna Suri, President, FICCI, said India has a vision of becoming the third largest aviation market by 2020 and some notable measures have been undertaken by the Government such as drafting the civil aviation policy which is aimed at making civil aviation a vibrant sector. However, she said some issues faced by the sector like mounting debt burden of the airlines, congestion at airports and high taxation need to be addressed. India Aviation 2016 would prove to be an ideal platform to showcase the possibilities of this growing sector, she added.

And amid all the activity the sector has already started preparing for the next India Aviation event, to be held in March 2016. Anil Srivastava, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, highlighted that more than 250 exhibitors would be a part of the Show and mentioned some of its key components such as exhibition, conference, CEO Forum, chalets, static display, aerobatics, demonstration flights and media conferences. He added in this edition there would be conferences and panel discussions where focused industry issues will be discussed not just among CEOs but between Indian technical experts and their foreign counterparts in the presence of policy makers.

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