Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel likes to put practice before policy. “What ever you see happening in the sector is part of the national civil aviation policy,” he says. Officially, the country’s policy draft is before a group of ministers (GoM), awaiting its approval. But the boomers in the industry are not waiting for that.
While the year 2003 saw the rise of low-cost airlines and a new class of flyers—the budget traveller—a dozen airlines have sprung up since, with 333 aircraft between them.
An estimated investment of Rs 40,000 crore ($9 billion) is expected for airport development in the country in the next five years.
While Delhi and Mumbai airports are getting much-needed facelifts through public-private partnerships, Kolkata and Chennai airports are being developed by the state-run Airports Authority of India, which has also been mandated to modernise 35 non-metro airports.
A revised draft of a note on the proposed National Civil Aviation Policy was submitted in May last year to the Cabinet, which lobbed it to the GoM. Aiming to attract more foreign passengers, the government has adopted a liberal approach in granting traffic rights under bilateral agreements with various foreign countries.
The India-US aviation market has registered significant growth under the new revised Air Services Agreement signed between the two countries in 2005. Similarly, traffic rights were enhanced with various other countries in order to enable greater connectivity to and from India.
These countries include Australia, UK, Germany, China, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Singapore, Mauritius, New Zealand, UAE, Thailand, Italy, Russia, Taiwan, Finland, Maldives, Tanzania, Japan, Sri Lanka, UAE (Sharjah, Dubai & Abu Dhabi), Kuwait, Italy, Japan, Spain, Oman, Scandinavian countries, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Uzbekistan and Malaysia.