Nation needs robust aviation infrastructure: Scindia

While highlighting the growth potential of India’s aviation sector, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia stated it was high time that we looked at manufacturing aerospace products indigenously

“Come and be part of the civil aviation growth story” was the call given by Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on the inaugural day of the three-day CAPA India Aviation Summit 2023 at Hyatt Regency in New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, Scindia stressed on the need to increase the ecosystem of Indian civil aviation. “In the next five to seven years, we expect the domestic airlines to have a fleet of around 2,000 aircraft,” he remarked, adding the aviation infrastructure needs to be put in place so that it can support a $20 billion economy by 2047 within India. 

While highlighting the growth potential of India’s aviation sector, Scindia stated it was high time that we looked at manufacturing aerospace products indigenously. “Time is ripe for manufacturing to take off in India,” he said. The Civil Aviation Minister shared that the number of Flying Training Organisations (FTOs), currently at 35, are likely to be increased to 50 by the end of Q1 of the next financial year. “The cargo and ground handling ecosystem needs to be increased too,” he said. 

As travel rebounds across the globe, Scindia said the country has taken steps to allow airlines to lease more aircraft to fill the gap in capacity. He drew attention towards the fact that with airline traffic recovering quickly from coronavirus restrictions that led to jets being grounded worldwide in 2020, the manufacturers are now struggling to keep pace with the demand for aircraft and engine shortages, thereby grounding some aircraft. “Surprisingly and shockingly, the situation has turned the other way. Now we don’t have enough planes to fly our passengers,” he noted.  

While outlining the ambitious investments and tax reforms in infrastructure and maintenance facilities, he called for manufacturing more aerospace products in the country. He mentioned about tweaking the airline leasing programme to enable airlines to add more aircraft to meet passenger demand, including more wet leasing or renting of planes with crew for both national and international routes. 

Speaking at one of the CEO Sessions, Air India CEO Campbell Wilson said that due to the shortage of crew, the airline has decided to reduce six weekly flights, three each from Newark and San Francisco. In January 2022, the Tata Group had bought the Air India along with Air India Express and 50 per cent stake in AIATSL from the Government and had later announced the world’s first and largest order for 840 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus. Wilson informed that in the next three months, Air India will have 100 pilots for Boeing 777s and around 1400 cabin crew. “The measures undertaken to reduce the flights are for a temporary period,” he said, adding that the airline also has plans to use GPT4 and ChatGPT to improve and enhance its operations.  

At another session, IndiGo CEO Pieter Elbers said that “the airline is embarking on the next level of growth and cost leadership is crucial for the airline”. He added that the V-shaped recovery of India’s aviation sector has been a part of the learning exercise and it will soon move towards more sustainable finance. Elbers remarked that IndiGo has plans to start flights to a few central Asian destinations apart from Jakarta and Nairobi. This low cost carrier is India’s largest airline with a market share of more than 55 per cent. 

“The fact that Indian airlines survived the pandemic without a bailout by the Government is testimony of the resilience of the aviation industry in the country. Over the next two quarters, SpiceJet’s balance sheet will improve significantly,” said SpiceJet CEO Ajay Singh, adding that he expects record yields and passenger traffic in the summer of 2023. 

“It is in our DNA to refuse to die and in the midst of this, we decided to get Jet Airways aircraft, which helped us get prized airport slots and establish a market share,” said Singh while talking about the challenges faced by SpiceJet during one of the CEO sessions. He also mentioned about the organisation looking at all possible ways to bring down the costs. “SpiceJet is cleaning up its balance sheet. We will emerge stronger and are very positive about the future,” he said.  

Meanwhile, CAPA India CEO Kapil Kaul, while sharing the challenges likely to be countered growing Indian aviation market, said that the ticket prices were not likely to fall much in FY 2024. “The Indian aviation industry is expected to add 135 new aircraft in 2023-24 and there will be a requirement of 2200 more pilots to cater to this growing fleet,” he said. Kaul was apprehensive about India’s airlines performance in TY24 – they are likely to incur a loss of $1.84 billion; over 100 aircraft are still grounded due to supply chain issues. He also drew attention towards the country facing shortage of airport capacity in Tier II and Tier III cities. 

Ever since it was first held in 2004, the CAPA India Aviation Summit has emerged as a must-attend event for the stakeholders in the Indian aviation sector. It brings together the region’s leading aviation advisory and research practice with the mission to deliver game-changing solutions that drive high-impact strategic and financial outcomes for its clients in the aviation, aerospace and travel industries.


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