Civil Aviation has been identified as one of the most important growth engines essential for the economic growth of the country. Besides providing air transport for passengers and goods, it facilitates growth of trade and commerce, domestic and foreign investments, transfer of technology, creation of infrastructure, domestic and international tourism and generation of employment etc.
Air transport in India has witnessed enormous growth in the recent past. During the last 10 years, compounded annual growth rate of passenger traffic has been approximately 15%. A key trend in the business model of the Indian Carriers in the domestic operations is that the domestic traffic is rapidly shifting to Low Cost Carriers (LCC). From a level of about 1% in 2003-2004, the market share of LCC including the LCC arm of full service carriers is today exceeding 70% of the total domestic traffic.
India is likely to be the fastest growing aviation market in the world in the next 20 years. Estimates suggest that the domestic air traffic will touch 160–180 million passengers per annum in the next 10 years and the international traffic will exceed 80 million passengers per annum from the current level of 60 million domestic and 40 million international passengers respectively. According to International Air Transport Association’s Airline Industry Forecast 2012-2016,India’s domestic air travel market would be among the top five globally, experiencing the second highest growth rate.
Keeping this in mind, a number of steps have been taken by the Government to accelerate the pace of growth of airline industry in the country. These have been summarized as follows:
1. EXPANSION AND UPGRADATION OF AIRPORTS:
At present 5 major airports are being operationalized under PPP mode at New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin. The new Terminal Building is under construction at Mumbai airport with Phase I of it for international operations likely to be ready by August, 2013, while Phase II for domestic operations will be ready by August, 2014. The existing Greenfield airport at Bangaluru is undergoing Phase-II expansion to meet the growing capacity demand. Airports Authority of India has undertaken expansion and upgradation of airports at Kolkata and Chennai.The Government of India has also approved 15 more airports under the Greenfield Airports Policy being developed, majority under PPP mode.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) is upgrading and modernizing airport infrastructure at Chennai, Kolkata and select non-metro airports in the country. During the year 2012, airport infrastructure has been developed and upgraded as below:
· New Integrated terminals equipped with modern state-of-the-art facilities commissioned at Indore, Lucknow and Raipur airports.
· Development of new Civil Enclaves completed at Bhatinda and Jaisalmer airports.
· New Domestic terminals completed / expanded at Rajahmundhry, Pudducherri and Gondia airports.
· Development of Jalgaon airport completed and commissioned for ATR-72 type of aircraft operations.
· Airside apron capacity increased at Chennai, Kolkata, Jammu, Surat and Tirupathi airports.
· Integrated Cargo Terminal completed at Chennai at a cost of Rs. 144.93 crores. Total enhanced handling capacity is 11 lacs MT/year.
· New terminals at Bhubaneswar and Ranchi airports are completed and shall be operationalized shortly after pre-commissioning trials of various services.
· Expansion and upgradation of airports at Chennai and Kolkata is completed at a cost of Rs. 2015 crores and Rs.2325 crores respectively. Trial operations have been successfully conducted through new terminal and are expected to be commissioned in January – February, 2013.
· Work has commenced for development of new Civil Enclave at Chandigarh Airport (Mohali side).
· Solar Photo-voltaic power plants have been commissioned at Corporate Headquarters at Safdarjung Airports, Jaisalmer, Guwahati and Raipur airports as initiative under Sustainable Development.
Declaration of Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Mangalore, Varanasi and Lucknow airports as International airports: So far there were 17 international airports. Five new airports at Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Mangalore, Varanasi and Lucknow have been added to the list this year. Earlier these airports were custom airports where all facilities as per extended norms of an international airport in terms of customs, immigration, health, animal & plant quarantine etc. were available on temporary basis. After these airports were declared as international airports, these facilities will be available on permanent basis which would open the door to have more international flights to different destinations.
2. TURN AROUND / FINANCIAL RESTRUCTURING PLANS OF AIR INDIA:
The plan includes infusion of equity to the extent of approximately Rs. 30,000 crores over a period of next 10 years, issue of Government guaranteed Non-Convertible Debentures amounting to Rs.7,400 crore, induction of 27 B-787 (DreamLiner) upto March, 2016 and various other measures. However, the infusion of equity is not unconditional and shall be on the basis of achievement of milestones which have been fixed for Air India at different stages in terms of Passenger Load Factor (PLF), On-Time Performance (OTP), fleet utilisation, market-share etc.
Improvement in Performance of Air India
– There has been reduction in net losses of Air India by about Rs. 650 crores in the first 6 months of financial year 2012-13.
– PLF of Air India had reached 78.6% in November 2012 as against the TAP benchmark of 69.5%.
– Integration process of Indian Airlines and Air India as per the recommendations of Justice Dharmadhikari Committee Report is almost completed.
– Computerization of Flight and Cabin Crew Management System (Auto Roster) is in progress. It will be operational for pilots by January, 2013 and for cabin crew by February-March 2013. The new system is an algorithm that will automate the task of Flight Duty Assignments based on user defined rules, policies, parameters and constraints. Auto-Roster aims to equalize the flying hours (for past period or the roster period), sector flown (number of times and last date flown), day & night flights (diurnal distribution), flight operations type (domestic, regional, international), crew pairing rotation, number of landings and other user-defined parameters.
– Three B-787 Dreamliner aircrafts have been received and five more will be received during the current financial year.
– Flight Duty Time Limitations (FDTL) for Pilots and Cabin Crew has been implemented.
– Hiving off of MRO and Ground Handling Businesses of Air India into separate subsidiaries is in progress after approval given by the Government. Air India Engineering Services subsidiary will take care of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO); while Air India Transport Services Services will take care of ground handling services, which includes jobs like ticket check-in into wholly owned subsidiaries of the airline.
– Up-to-date payment of salaries to staff till the month of November, 2012 has been made.
– No more free excess baggage is being allowed in Air India to anybody now.
3. FDI BY FOREIGN AIRLINES IN INDIAN CIVIL AVIATION:
The Government has allowed 49% FDI by the foreign airlines in the domestic carriers. It is expected that this step would bring in much needed equity infusion in the domestic carriers. The FDI will be subject to certain safeguards including Government approval route and compliance with all applicable rules and regulations of SEBI. It will require clearance from Home Ministry and FIPB.
4. ALLOCATION OF INTERNATIONAL TRAFFIC RIGHTS
The Government has adopted a pragmatic policy to allocate traffic rights to private Indian carriers on various international routes. In November, 2012, the traffic rights to Indian carriers were allocated much in advance upto Winter-2013 season so as to remove uncertainties about traffic rights and give them enough time for making their preparations. The total bilateral traffic rights allocated to Indian carriers including Air India upto Summer-2012 were 1074 services per week, have now increased to the level of 1695 services per week in the next Winter-2013 schedule, which is an enhancement of more than 60%. Besides this, a number of new international routes have been opened for Indian carriers to fly in the next 3 seasons as follows:
– Air India: Delhi-Rome-Madrid/ Barcelona; Delhi-Moscow; Delhi-Sydney/ Melbourne; Mumbai-Nairobi, Mumbai-Al Najaf (Iraq)
– Jet Airways: Mumbai-Jakarta; Delhi-Barcelona; Mumbai-Zurich; Delhi-Tashkent; Mumbai-Ho Chi Minh City
– Spicejet: Lucknow- Al Najaf (Iraq); Varanasi- Al Najaf (Iraq); Delhi-Macau; Delhi-Ho Chi Minh City
5. INITIATIVES IN THE AREA OF AIR NAVIGATION SYSTEMS
Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken a number of initiatives to upgrade Airport and Airspace infrastructure to cater to the continued growth in air traffic with enhanced safety and efficiency. AAI as Air Navigation Service Provider, responsible for provision of Air Navigation Services in the delegated airspace, has embarked upon ANS infrastructure upgradation strategy with the objective of ensuring safety, efficiency, cost-effectiveness of aircraft operations with environmental benefits on a long-term and sustainable basis. The comprehensive strategy has been to transition from voice to data-link, transition from ground based navigation to satellite based navigation, augmentation of Radar surveillance, implementation of ATM Automation and enhancement in ATM procedures.
Navigation: AAI has installed 66 Instrument landing systems and 93 VOR/DME which provide navigational guidance to aircraft. In addition, Satellite Based Navigation System (SBAS) called GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system is being jointly developed and implemented by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The GAGAN is designed to provide the improved accuracy, availability, and integrity necessary to enable users to rely on GPS for all phases of flight, from en route through approach for all qualified airports within the GAGAN service volume. GAGAN will also provide increased positional accuracy of aircraft thereby permitting enhanced safety and operational efficiency. The system will be commissioned by June 2013. India is the fourth country in the world, after USA, JAPAN and Europe to take up the challenge of establishing the regional SBAS Navigation System which will redefine the navigation over Indian airspace and other states falling in the footprint of GAGAN.
Enhanced Air and Ground Surveillance: In addition to the existing Radars at 13 sites, 9 more Secondary Surveillance Radars have been commissioned to ensure that aircraft are seen on the Radar display by the controllers throughout their flight from departure to destination. This ensures safety, provision of reduced distance between aircraft allowing the controller to accommodate more flights in a given airspace/airport. 8 more Radars are also under implementation to ensure total seamless radar coverage in the country. 14 ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance –Broadcast) systems which support Radar-like services have also been installed at 14 airports to provide back-up cover to Radars. ADS-B will also provide direct routing to aircraft in medium-density airports (where Radar is not installed), thereby accommodating more number of arrivals/departures from those airports.
ATM Automation: Advanced ATM Automation Systems have been implemented at 38 airports in addition to Metro airports, providing the controllers with advanced Safety nets, tools and safety features for enhancing safety and efficiency.
Integration of Radar Data into Automation system: Radar data from Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Porbander and Udaipur Radars have been integrated in to the Automation system at Ahmedabad.
Enhancement in ATM procedures: Performance Based Navigation procedures exploiting avionics & ground infrastructure and providing optimized and accurate flight paths for departures and arrivals have been implemented at all major airports. The initiative has enhanced Safety and efficiency of aircraft operations.
In addition to the above initiatives that have enhanced safety, efficiency and capacity of airspace and airports, AAI is implementing Air Traffic Flow Management which will ensure that air traffic demand and capacity is balanced and delay to aircraft in the air and ground is eliminated.
Due to above efforts for safety, the International Jane’s ATC Award 2102 was conferred on AAI at Amsterdam for achieving best operational efficiency among many major ANSPs in the world is a testimony to AAI’s ANS achievements in the Region.
6. SIMPLIFICATION OF PROCEDURE FOR SANCTION OF BUILDINGS AROUND AIRPORTS
Government has decided to do away with the system of taking NOC from AAI every time and has now prescribed the height at different distances from the airports upto which the local municipal authority will be empowered to sanction the map as per their bye-laws. In this regard, Airports Authority of India (AAI) would prepare colour coded zoning maps in a grid format for each airport. For buildings whose height exceeds the height indicated in the zoning map, the designated officer/office of AAI would assess the obstructions to be caused by the proposed building. If the design and orientation of the proposed building can suitably be amended to meet the regulations, NOC may be given, otherwise not.
7. DOMESTIC OPERATIONS
In the year 2012, scheduled domestic airlines operated more than 11,500 departures per week connecting 77 airports. A new daily flight has been introduced from 26th December, 2012 on the route Delhi-Varanasi-Agra-Khajuraho to link these cities of historical importance on air map.
8. HELICOPTER CONNECTIVITY TO VRINDAVAN
Vrindavan was connected with Delhi by Helicopter service from 28th November, 2012. The service is being operated by Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd. Pawan.
9. AIRCARFT ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BUREAU
Government has set up an Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau to efficiently investigate the accidents and to recommend effective corrective measures.
10. PERMISSION TO IMPORT ATF
The Government has allowed import of ATF by Indian carriers, which will bring much required competition among the oil marketing companies apart from huge cost saving to the India carriers.
11. OTHER PRIORITY ISSUES BEFORE THE MINISTRY
Development of Low Cost Airports: In an endeavour to provide air connectivity to different parts of India, development of low cost airports is the most important component. Instructions have been issued to AAI to identify the most suitable low cost model for development of smaller airports and to develop airports in the smaller cities based on this mode.
Connectivity to Smaller and Remote Parts of India: The top most priority is to provide air connectivity to remote and interior areas of the country, North Eastern Region, Tier-II & Tier-III cities of India and other smaller cities of the country. Connectivity which is proposed to be provided would be customer oriented in terms of affordability and cost of travel. The Ministry has engaged internationally renowned firm “Deloitte” as a Consultant to identify the factors that are inhibiting the growth of domestic connectivity and what needs to be done in this regard. The outcome of the study will form the basis of the implementation of various measures for providing better domestic connectivity. This would also include enhancement of present operations of helicopters and construction of heliports to improve the connectivity to smaller places including the places of religious and tourist importance.
Enhancement of Helicopter connectivity: The Government is also working to develop Heliports in different parts of the country to make Helicopter operations to inaccessible areas for the purpose of air connectivity, religious, other tourism and for medical purposes. Pawan Hans with a mix fleet of about 50 Helicopters has a cliental from diversified sectors. It is successfully operating Helicopter services to several pilgrim centres including Mata Vaishno Devi, Kedarnathji, Amarnathji, Vrindavan and Badrinathji. It is also operating services in Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Sikkim, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep and plans to shortly start services in Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. Pawan Hans is now planning to venture into fixed wing aircraft and seaplane operations. It has also recently conducted a detailed study in Uttar Pradesh to connect Buddhist Circuit in association with UP Tourism by Helicopter and has plans to extend Helicopter services on these destinations in near future.
Creation of Civil Aviation Authority: To manage the phenomenal growth of air traffic with safety, an effective, autonomous and professional regulatory body is required and a Bill in this regard will soon be brought before the Parliament.
Creation of Civil Aviation Security Force: To strengthen the Civil Aviation Security in the country, Ministry of Civil Aviation engaged a team of experts from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to carry out a detailed study of the existing security system at the airports and suggest measures to improve the same. The ICAO study report, which has been accepted by the Government, has suggested establishing a dedicated Aviation Security Force (ASF) under the command and control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation which is supposed to be completely integrated with the aviation industry, in line with the practices across the world. To pursue the matter further, a sub-group was constituted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to examine the recommendations of ICAO study report on creation of a dedicated specialized ASF. This sub-group has also recommended constitution of a dedicated, specialized ASF under the command and control of Ministry of Civil Aviation. Further, necessary action has been initiated to approach Cabinet Committee on Security for seeking its approval.
ATF Related Issues: ATF constitutes approximately 40% to 50% of operating expenses of Indian Airlines. Efforts are on to rationalise the price of ATF by getting it declared as a notified product under PNGRB Act to bring it under the ambit of PNGR Board. The major contributor to the high prices of ATF is the VAT levied by various State Governments ranging from 4% to 30%. Efforts are also on to persuade the State Governments to reduce the VAT on ATF so as to bring down the prices of ATF and discussions with a number of States have already taken place in this regard. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has also proposed to include ATF in the list of declared goods.
Skill augmentation in civil aviation sector through a vibrant, world class aviation education and training: In this regard, the work to establish a Civil Aviation University is under progress