Sunday, May 29, 2022

Jyotiraditya Scindia: My job is to ensure that everyone who buys an air ticket flies with a smile

New Delhi: It’s under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India has really seen the democratisation of a service earlier meant for only a select few. The broadening and deepening of the availability of civil aviation facilities to the 1.4 billion people of our country have occurred in the last eight years, and more so in the past three years.

This is despite the last three years being a very trying time for the civil aviation industry because of the Covid pandemic. The industry has endured loses of $370 billion (Rs 28.7 lakh crore) globally and $2.9 billion (Rs 22,496 crore) in India. Before the pandemic hit, there were roughly 144 million domestic fliers in 2020, more than double the 67 million passengers in 2013-14. At the peak of the pandemic, air traffic crashed to almost zero as all planes were on the tarmac. With the gradual reopening of the sector, India recorded around 50 million discreet fliers in 2021. In the past one year, we have seen their number go up to 85-90 million.

Several airlines have shut down in the last two decades, driven by various factors. This year, we will see the birth of a new airline—Akasa Air—and the rebirth of another—the erstwhile Jet Airways. Both airlines will add nearly 50-70 aircraft in the first couple of years. India already has a decent fleet strength of 715 aircraft, up from 415 in 2013-14. We are now looking at adding around 100-125 planes every year.

When there is growth in both number of passengers and airlines, it’s natural that it will propel the growth of airports. India had 74 airports in 2013-14. Over the last eight years, we have added 67 airports, waterdromes and heliports, taking the total number to 141—almost double of what it was in 2013-14. We intend to take this number to over 200 by 2025. Certainly, civil aviation infrastructure is going to witness tremendous growth over the next three to four years.

However, the story of civil aviation is not just about airlines and airports. It’s about creating a sustainable ecosystem. My thrust has been on flying training organisations (FTOs) because we will require close to 8,000-9,000 pilots over the next 5-10 years. We have 34 FTOs in India at present. Almost 40 per cent of our pilots are trained abroad, which means forex outflow of around Rs 500 crore per annum. To implement the Make in India policy, in terms of skilling and training, the civil aviation ministry has sanctioned the setting up of nine FTOs. These include the first FTO in the Northeast, which I inaugurated at Lilabari in Assam. All these FTOs will be operational in the next two to three months. In the second round, we have bid out 15 FTOs across the country. So, the total number of FTOs is expected to go up to 58 in the next one year. We are also increasing the intake capacity of existing FTOs.

29/05/22 Jyotiraditya Scindia/India Today

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment