Monday, July 08, 2019

Aviation sector: How to fast-track policy implementation to boost ground handling sector

New Delhi: India's civil aviation industry has been witnessing rapid growth in the past few years to become the pride of the nation, and rightly so. Driven by a growing economy, rising incomes, increasing competition among airlines and a supportive policy environment, India stands proud as the seventh largest aviation market with 340 million passengers being handled at our airports in financial year 2018/19. It is expected to become the third largest by 2024.

As of last December, Indian aviation completed 52 consecutive months of double-digit growth. The first quarter of 2019, however, took a dip due to the unfortunate situation faced by Jet Airways, resulting in the rise in airfares. With the consistent airport development and expansion in airport infrastructure to improve air connectivity for passengers in the tier-II and III cities now, the sector is most likely to continue to witness growth in the years to come.

In order to ensure that the existing and the upcoming airports are equipped to handle the rising passenger footfall without compromising on the quality of experience, ground handling - including check-in and baggage handling, aircraft handling, servicing and cleaning as well as cargo handling services - is critical. It enhances comfort and ensures safety of passengers in addition to securing short turnaround time for flights.

Identifying ground handling as a core function in the sector, the Ministry of Civil Aviation introduced the draft Civil Aviation Policy in 2015 and issued a notification in 2017 that made modifications to the existing ground handling policy. According to the policy, airports with a footfall of over 10 million passengers annually would have three certified ground handling agencies which would include Air India or its subsidiary/joint venture, one of the airport operators and one more to be shortlisted by the airport operator. The policy provisions also prohibit ground handling operations to be carried out by non-certified manpower companies with little or no on-field experience.
08/07/19 Murali Ramachandran/Business Today

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