Multiple international airports in metros? Yes, that is exactly what the Civil Aviation Ministry is considering. A closer look at the scenario will tell you that it is not such a preposterous idea.
Air travel in India is no longer a luxury. The growing middle class, the increasing pace of life and the aggressive expansion of low-cost carriers is resulting in a quantum leap in air passenger traffic in India. It has been growing at almost 25% annually since 2003. According to industry sources growth projections are bullish.
So bullish that to meet the expected growth, Indian carriers have ordered approximately 480 aircraft for delivery till around 2010. This in spite of intense competition taking a heavy toll on the bottom line and airlines incurring huge losses. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) estimates that in the last financial year ending March 2007, India’s airlines posted a combined loss of approximately $500 million.
But the industry is already showing signs of maturity. Consolidation by way of mergers and acquisitions is going on and everyone is looking to streamline operations and optimize resources. Profits will come soon enough.
Are our airports up to the task?
Anyone who has done some international travel will tell you that Indian airports need a lot of work. The exponential growth in the sector has caught everyone unawares. Add to that a lack of vision, political will and man-power shortage and you get some very inefficient airports, especially in the metros that handle the most traffic. The result – congestion, delays, baggage woes, inconvenience and financial loss.
The situation is of course much better than what it was a few years ago, with all major airports undergoing upgrades and modernization. The government’s airport modernization plan proposes investments of $9 billion by 2010. But there is growing realization that in metros modernization of existing airports alone will not be enough. Shortage of space, phenomenal traffic growth and, more importantly, connectivity to the cities or the lack of it is posing hurdles.
Multiple international airports in metros could be the solution. The Civil Aviation Ministry has already confirmed that they are seriously considering the proposal. We might soon have metros with 2 or 3 airports!
Have you faced congestion at Indian airports? Have efficiency levels improved at Indian airports lately? Do you think multiple airports in metros are justified?
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