President for ramping up civil aviation infrastructure

President for ramping up civil aviation infrastructure
Highlights

President Pranab Mukherjee declared open the fifth edition of biennial aviation event ‘International Exhibition and Conference on Civil Aviation’ here at Begumpet Airport on Wednesday. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao were also present at the event. 

Hyderabad: President Pranab Mukherjee declared open the fifth edition of biennial aviation event ‘International Exhibition and Conference on Civil Aviation’ here at Begumpet Airport on Wednesday. Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao were also present at the event.

President Pranab Mukherjee, while speaking at the meeting after inaugurating the event, suggested enhancing civil aviation infrastructure by building new greenfield airports to not only cater to "phenomenal" rise in passenger and cargo traffic, but also to connect tier 2 and 3 cities, especially in the Northeast.

It was a mega civil aviation expo and conference, at Begumpet airport here, Mukherjee noted that India still was lagging behind in terms of per capita air travels when compared to other countries. "It is estimated that India shall require about 800 aircraft by 2020 to cater to the phenomenal increase in air passenger and freight traffic.

The supporting aviation infrastructure has to be suitably upgraded by building new greenfield airports, expanding existing airports and upgrading facilities for maintenance, repair and operations," he said. Despite rapid growth of civil aviation industry in the country, "several tier 2 and tier 3 cities of India still remained unconnected or are inadequately connected with the national grid", the President said.

"With the existing economic centres reaching a saturation point, business activities are bound to move to newer destinations. Northeastern states still lack adequate air connectivity due to paucity of civil aviation infrastructure," he said. "The deeper the air penetration to smaller cities, better the connectivity to Northeastern part of India," he said.

The President is on a day-long tour to Hyderabad for the fifth edition of biennial aviation event themed on 'India's Civil Aviation Sector: Potential As Global Manufacturing and MRO Hub'. Despite being ranked 9th in the world, the President pointed out that India was one of the "least" penetrated aviation markets globally with 0.04 trips per capita per annum as compared to 0.3 of China and more than 2 in the US.

However, he said the civil aviation market was "poised" for a faster and sustainable growth with the development of 100 smart cities, new economic corridors, more than 50 new airports and expansion of existing airports. He underlined that air travel has ceased to be a luxury these days as the middle class population has grown by 60 per cent over the last five years to about 270 million in 2015. The rise in their incomes also "has enhanced their capacity to undertake air travel for business and leisure", he noted.

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