Context: It is time India plans a hub airport flight path
- Transforming one of India’s metro gateway airports into a hub airport deserves consideration as the aviation market puts the novel coronavirus pandemic behind it and passenger demand surges.
- India is the third largest domestic aviation market in the world, next only to the United States and China
- In view of the surge in passenger demand, India’s airport operators have planned investments upwards of ₹90,000 crore to enhance capacity over the next four years or so.
- To boot, the conditions are just right for building a hub airport.
What is a hub airport?
- A hub airport is one served by a multitude of airlines, connecting several airports through non-stop flights.
- There are three basic requirements for becoming a major airport hub, whether domestic or international, i.e.
- sufficient local consumer demand;
- good geographic location, and
- necessary infrastructure to support high-volume traffic.
- A typical hub airport operates on the concept of waves.
- A wave of incoming flights arrives and connects with another wave of outgoing flights that departs an hour or two later.
- Hubbing allows for the maximum combination of flight pairs and a wider choice of destinations and frequencies for connecting passengers.
- Some global examples are (Hub airport/Home airline): London/British Airways; Frankfurt/Lufthansa
- It is a win-win for all.
- A hub creates economies of scale for the airport and airlines alike.
- The airport benefits from increased direct connectivity with other airports and more revenue opportunities due to increased passenger footfalls.
- Improved passenger throughput has a knock-on effect on the wider airport ecosystem, such as aero and non-aero service providers at the airport, including cargo and ground handling, etc.
- Airlines, on their part, get to serve city pairs that are otherwise economically unviable for non-stop flights.
- Frequent fliers get greater choice and flexibility with flights, destinations, and service frequencies, as well as lower ancillary costs, such as avoiding the time and cost of an overnight stay.
- It is well established that the creation of one job in the aviation sector affects the creation of up to six jobs in allied sectors, such as tourism and hospitality.
- All this propels the economic and social development of the city and its inhabitants, too.
An India perspective
- In India the first two requirements are largely addressed and the focus is rightly on addressing the third requirement i.e. infrastructure
Factors in favour
- India has the largest diaspora, or transnational community, at 18 million people across all six continents and regions being third largest domestic aviation market in the world it can go for airport hub
- India is located on busy international air corridors that connect Europe, Africa, and the Middle East with Asia, making it ideal for a transit hub and alternative/diversion/fuel stop/technical stop; being the fifth-largest economy
- Given these favourable factors India can support development of more than one hub airport
- There are capacity constraints at major airports because of a lack of landing slots, especially during peak hours
- The Airports Authority of India Act (AAI), 1994 constrains the AAI/airport operators from commercially exploiting available land for non-aeronautical activities
- A high cost-low fare operating environment and increased competition hurts airline balance sheets and financials, which hurts the growth of airports
There is a need to develop inter-modal connectivity (rail/road – air) and logistics support infrastructure as a part of the future master plans to fully exploit potential with cargo and freight. With the carefully framed policy, India can bring down its logistic cost, increase people to people contact and raise the contribution of hospitality sector to the economy.
Source: The Hindu