Booming aviation business prompts government 25-year airport restructure

The Indian government is developing a comprehensive 25-year master plan for airports in the country to keep pace with air traffic growth, according to Jayant Sinha, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation.

The infrastructure at some of the top airports in the country is bursting at the seams while commercial aviation in the country has consistently recorded double-digit growth for the past three years.  According to an aviation industry study, the structural capacity of airports in the country is likely to be saturated in the next five years. “We are developing a comprehensive master plan for our airports because traffic continues to grow strongly and will continue to do so. Even if we grow at 10 per cent we will see massive requirement as far as airport capacity is concerned,” said Sinha. He added that air traffic is expected to double, if not quadruple in the next 20-25 years and that is the “planning horizon” the government is aiming at.

The master plan will explore the need for multiple airports in cities, refined agreements with airport operators, providing attractive opportunities for operating brownfield airports, offering multiple brownfield airports as part of a package for bidding as well as scaling up the Airports Authority of India, Sinha added.

According to a study last month by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), India’s airport system is expected to exceed its maximum infrastructural capacity by 2022. It noted that 10 airports under the Airports Authority of India are already operating beyond their design capacity, while others in key gateway cities such as Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata will reach their maximum capacity in the next one year to five years. CAPA estimates that India will need an investment of up to US$45 billion to create an additional capacity of handling 500-600 million passengers at its airports by 2030.

International Air Transport Association (IATA), in its 20-year passenger forecast, reveals that by 2036 India will be the third fastest growing market with an expected addition of 337 million new passengers from 141 million passengers in 2016.