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Aviation takes a flying leap PDF Print
Written by Indicus Analytics   
Wednesday, 22 December 2010 18:30
With the world's fourth largest domestic passenger base, India?s aviation sector is a potential growth-driver.

Aviation has taken off in India over the last decade and airport infrastructure is being upgraded across the country, making it one of the most vibrant sectors of the economy. Though this sector had been hit hard by the global slowdown in 2008-09, it revived in the following year and has surpassed the targets set for growth in passenger movement and freight. According to the civil aviation ministry’s Annual Report 2009-10, India’s domestic passenger base of 43.29 million is fourth in the world, after the US, China and Japan, and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 9 to 10 per cent over this decade. Scheduled air services are available from 82 airports now compared to 50 airports in early 2000s.

While there are currently six airports developed under the public private partnership (PPP) model in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Cochin and Nagpur. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has planned to develop 35 non-metro airports. Also, greenfield projects in Sikkim, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh have begun.

Of around 50 airports operational across the country, Mumbai and Delhi airports handle the bulk of passenger traffic — each of the two cities’ airports account for 20 per cent of passenger traffic. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport surpassed Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in 2009-10, becoming the airport handling the highest traffic in India. Bangalore and Chennai follow with around 8 per cent share. In general, the southern and western states lead when it comes to aviation, with their focus on industry and business. (Click here for graph

Aircraft movement 
(in ‘000) Apr ‘06 Apr ‘10
International 17.03 23.16
Domestic 63.12 88.24
Passengers (in million)
International 1.92 2.82
Domestic 5.41 8.19
Freight (in ‘000 tonnes)
International 87.55 115.50
Domestic 38.24 64.60
Source: Airports Authority of India
In March 2010, it was the southern region that led with the highest share, 30.4 per cent of total passenger traffic, followed closely by the western region with 29.4 per cent and the northern region with 28.2 per cent. The south also had the highest share in total freight followed by the western region. However, when it comes to growth, the north-eastern region takes the front rank. Air activity has begun in earnest in these states recently, compared to the well-established airports in other parts of the country.

  1980-’81  ‘90-’91 ‘99-’00  ‘05-’06  ‘06-’07  ‘07-’08 ‘08-’09 ‘09-’10
Passengers 10.74 17.72 39.00 73.35 51.11 63.71 43.46 47.40
Cargo 178.70 377.33 797.00 1403.98 656.74 723.46 495.52 511.55
Passengers in million at AAI Airports; Cargo in ‘000 tonnes at AAI Airports
Source: Economic Survey 2009-10, Data for 2009-10 is provisional
In terms of freight traffic, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata are the top five airports in 2009-10, while among the smaller airports, Agartala, Indore and Imphal are the top three. In terms of growth in 2009-10, Guwahati and Jaipur accounted for highest growth. In fact, most of the non-major airports benefited last year with low-cost carriers opening freight services to these airports. In addition to the airports managed by AAI or under the PPP model, there are more than 300 airstrips across the country, under private or state government ownership.

State governments are relaxing procedures to allow use of airstrips by private planes, and are working to upgrade the airstrips. Also, 32 airports managed by AAI are non-operational. These are all over the country — Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, Solapur in Maharashtra, Khandwa in MP, Palampur in Gujarat, Lengpui in Mizoram, Khowai in Tripura and so on. Reviving these airports is on the cards. Though air infrastructure demands huge investment, it gives considerable returns to the economy. Air connectivity has been recognised as a growth driver, not just for industry but also for agro-related activities, horticulture, tourism and so on.

Indian States Development Scorecard, a weekly feature by Indicus Analytics, focuses on the progress in India and across the states across various socio-economic parameters