3. Airport modernisation has gained much momentum in the last few years. Why is it important to expand and upgrade the airport networks? Explain.
हवाई अड्डे के आधुनिकीकरण ने पिछले कुछ वर्षों में बहुत गति प्राप्त की है। हवाई अड्डे के नेटवर्क का विस्तार और उन्नयन क्यों महत्वपूर्ण है? समझाएं।
Demand of the question – Detail the airport modernisation momentum gained in the last few years and also explain in the next part how it is important to expand and upgrade the airport networks in India.
India’s civil aviation industry aims to become the third-largest aviation market by 2020 and the largest by 2030 where it is planning development of more than 50 new airports and expansion of existing airports, giving job opportunities to millions.
- India registered a growth of 14 percent in civil aviation sector during the last decade. With foreign direct investment (FDI) in air transport during the last decade touched the mark of $570 million.
- The Country continues to be a favourite destination for foreign investors in civil aviation sector. It has been noted that the Indian civil aviation market is growing at a rapid pace and now ranks third in the world.
- Currently, six international airports have been completed successfully under PPP mode. The sector is expected to witness investments worth US$ 25 billion by 2027.
- In November 2018, the Government of India approved a proposal to manage six AAI airports under public private partnership (PPP). These airports are situated in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru.
Importance of expanding and upgrading the airport networks in India:
- Airports being nuclei of economic activity assume a significant role in the national economy. The quality of airport infrastructure, which is a vital component of the overall transportation network, contributes directly to a country’s international competitiveness and the flow of foreign investment. While cargo carried by air in India weighs less than 1% of the total cargo exported, it accounts for 35% of the total value of exports.
- Better cargo handling facilities lead to enhanced levels of importation, especially of capital goods and high-value items. Likewise, 97% of the country’s foreign tourists arrive by air and tourism is the nation’s second largest foreign exchange earner.
- Airports also represent a country’s window on the world. Passengers form their first impressions about a nation from the state of its airports. They can be effectively used as symbols of national pride, if we pay sufficient attention to their quality and maintenance.
- In many remote, hilly and inaccessible areas of the country, air transport is the quickest and sometimes the only mode of travel available. This is especially true of sensitive regions on the borders with our neighbours in the west, north and north-east. Airports need to be integrated with other modes of transport like Railways and Highways, enabling seamless transportation to all parts of the country.
- With the increase in traffic for both passenger & cargo aviation services in India, the government has put in place a program for directing investments in the Airport infrastructure – through both internal resource mobilization, as well as through private sector participation in modernizing specific Airports.
- Air transport serves a time-sensitive market. The surface access to airports should, therefore, be efficient and city planners should keep the airport-linked requirements constantly in view while designing surface transport development plans. There is a special need to emphasise the aspect of rail links with airports, in view of its near absence in India as contrasted with other countries.
- Aviation infrastructure also plays a key role in enabling the economic growth of countries that rely on major hubs such as Singapore and Dubai. In Dubai, for instance, aviation generates about 28% of the city’s GDP.
- Better transport linkages enable investment and human capital to flow more freely across borders, improving returns on investment for some projects.
In our journey towards the New India where the Indian economy is all set to scale new height’s, the upgradation and modernisation of airport infrastructure and its efficient use have assumed critical importance. Thus, aviation, far from being a mere mode of transportation for an elite group, is crucial for sustainable development of trade and tourism.