India needs 400 airports and 3,000 aircraft by 2020

(AFP)

In what could come as welcome news for the global aviation industry, Indian Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said yesterday the country needs at least 400 airports and 3,000 aircraft in the next 10 years to keep pace with growing demand.

Patel, quoted by the Indian media, was speaking at the opening of India Aviation 2010, a five-day aviation show that kicked off yesterday in Hyderabad. A total of 190 companies are participating in the event, including 115 from global markets.

The Indian aviation industry, powered by a rapid growth of the country's gross domestic product, has been expanding at 18 per cent CAGR (compounded annual growth rate). Patel's comments come soon after India's union budget that "weathered the crisis well".

The budget is expected to provide Rs1,735 billion (Dh139 million) for infrastructure development in the country, which is about 46 per cent of the total plan allocation for financial year 2011. Infrastructure development will also include the development of 400 airports.

"Our job is not over by creating infrastructure for the aviation industry to grow. We need safe and secure aviation. Indian aviation will not grow at the cost of safety and security," said Patel as quoted by the media.

Meanwhile, the United States will join hands with Indian public and private sector partners to make the country a regional hub of aviation in the future, US ambassador to India, Timothy J Roemer, was quoted as saying by an Indian daily.

"The US companies participating in the show are ready to partner with India on its goal of modernising and upgrading airports, improving air traffic flow and making it a regional aviation hub," Roemer said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the aviation show, Sudhir Raghavan, Chief Commercial Officer of Jet Airways, said the company was reconfiguring seats in at least 17 of its Boeing 737 aircraft to an all-economy class as business-class traffic has been declining fast, he was quoted by financial daily The Economic Times.

Chief executives of Indian carriers met yesterday at the aviation show to discuss implications of the union budget, with discussions revolving around the consequences of an expanded service tax and expensive fuel.

Recently, Dubai also witnessed a huge surge in global aviation players flocking to the Dubai Aviation Week, which saw deals worth more than $5 million (Dh18.36bn). The Aviation Week consisted of three events – Aircraft Interiors Middle East, MRO Middle East and the inaugural Aerospace and Defence Training Show.

 

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