Observing that the aviation sector has a potential to absorb USD 120 billion investment, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said efforts were on to create world class aviation infrastructure across the country on a mission mode.
The growth of low cost air travel has given strong competition to the railways by making new frequent flyers, he said while inaugurating the new international terminal building at the airport in Thiruvananthapuram.
"I am told the projected growth of India's aviation sector has a potential to absorb investment of over USD 120 billion with attendant job creation for lakhs of workers directly and indirectly," he said.
Emphasising the importance of the aviation sector in the country's economy, which was getting integrated to the global economy, Singh said the government has formulated various policies to give a boost to this vital sector. Creation of modern and efficient infrastructure at airports to handle passenger volumes of this magnitude requires huge investment.
This creates significant opportunities and challenges, he said.
A roadmap to modernise the existing airports on a mission mode to create world class infrastructure was being implemented at a fast pace as air transport in the country was witnessing unprecedented growth, the Prime Minister said.
While domestic air traffic has tripled, international traffic to and from India, more than doubled in the last seven years. "An exponential growth in passenger traffic is expected in this decade as well," he said, adding in recent years it has become vital for development of trade, industry and tourism, creating jobs for all sections.
Noting that aviation was earlier considered only for the affluent, he said, "With the growth of low cost air travel, the airlines are now giving strong competition to the railways and many passengers who earlier used to travel only by trains today frequently use air flights".
To meet the growing air traffic demand, he said the policy on airport infrastructure aimed to increase airport capacity to stay ahead of demand and garner the maximum share of traffic in the region. "We wish to make our airport facilities user friendly and achieve high levels of customer satisfaction. We also seek to ensure the safety and security of airport operations and develop multi-modal transport linkages," he said, adding aviation infrastructure was being modernised through joint ventures under the private-public partnership model.
Complimenting the Airports Authority of India, he said the entire investment of the new International Terminal Building here, at a cost of Rs 289 crore, was being met through AAI's internal resources.
Projects like the new terminal and the India's first International Container Transshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam which he inaugurated on Friday showed the commitment of the centre to develop Kerala as a major transport hub in the region, he said.